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Social Status and Optimal Income Taxation

  • Jang-Ting Guo


    (Department of Economics, University of California Riverside)

  • Juin-Jen Chang

    (Institute of Economics, Academia Sinica)

This paper examines the optimal (first-best) fiscal policy in a stochastic, infinite-horizon representative agent model that exhibits consumption-enhanced as well as wealth-enhanced social status in the household utility. We show that the optimal labor tax rate is a positive constant that is used to correct negative consumption externalities. The optimal capital tax rate is also positive in order to overturn agents' status-seeking capital over-accumulation. Moreover, we find that in contrast to a conventional automatic stabilizer, the optimal capital tax moves in the opposite direction with shocks to firms' production technology. This result turns out to be qualitatively consistent with the discernible empirical evidence that many countries have implemented procyclical fiscal policies.

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Paper provided by University of California at Riverside, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 200814.

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Length: 14 pages
Date of creation: Dec 2008
Date of revision: Dec 2008
Handle: RePEc:ucr:wpaper:200814
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  1. Gali, J., 1992. "Keeping Up with the Joneses: Consumption Externalities, Portfolio Choice and Asset Prices," Papers 92-22, Columbia - Graduate School of Business.
  2. Graciela L. Kaminsky & Carmen M. Reinhart & Carlos A. Végh, 2005. "When It Rains, It Pours: Procyclical Capital Flows and Macroeconomic Policies," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2004, Volume 19, pages 11-82 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Corneo, Giacomo & Jeanne, Olivier, 1997. "On relative wealth effects and the optimality of growth," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 54(1), pages 87-92, January.
  4. Jang-Ting Guo, 2004. "Tax Policy Under Keeping Up with the Joneses and Imperfectly Competitive Product Markets," Econometric Society 2004 North American Winter Meetings 17, Econometric Society.
  5. Benhabib, Jess & Rustichini, Aldo, 1997. "Optimal Taxes without Commitment," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 77(2), pages 231-259, December.
  6. Andrew B. Abel, . "Asset Prices Under Habit Formation and Catching Up With the Jones," Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research Working Papers 01-90, Wharton School Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research.
  7. Chris Tsoukis, 2007. "Keeping Up With The Joneses, Growth, And Distribution," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 54(4), pages 575-600, 09.
  8. Tournemaine, Frederic & Tsoukis, Christopher, 2008. "Relative consumption, relative wealth and growth," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 100(2), pages 314-316, August.
  9. Fisher, Walter H. & Hof, Franz X., 2001. "Status Seeking in the Small Open Economy," Economics Series 106, Institute for Advanced Studies.
  10. Futagami, Koichi & Shibata, Akihisa, 1998. "Keeping one step ahead of the Joneses: Status, the distribution of wealth, and long run growth," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 36(1), pages 109-126, July.
  11. Bill Dupor & Wen-Fang Liu, 2003. "Jealousy and Equilibrium Overconsumption," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(1), pages 423-428, March.
  12. Michael Gavin & Roberto Perotti, 1997. "Fiscal Policy in Latin America," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1997, Volume 12, pages 11-72 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Gurdip S. Bakshi & Zhiwu Chen, 1996. "The Spirit of Capitalism and Stock-Market Prices," CEMA Working Papers 511, China Economics and Management Academy, Central University of Finance and Economics.
  14. Aiyagari, S Rao, 1995. "Optimal Capital Income Taxation with Incomplete Markets, Borrowing Constraints, and Constant Discounting," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(6), pages 1158-75, December.
  15. Hung-Ju Chen & Jang-Ting Guo, 2009. "Social Status And The Growth Effect Of Money," The Japanese Economic Review, Japanese Economic Association, vol. 60(1), pages 133-141.
  16. Heng-fu Zou, 1991. "The spirit of capitalism and long-run growth," Policy Research Working Paper Series 630, The World Bank.
  17. Heng-fu Zou, 1995. "The spirit of capitalism and savings behavior," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 28(1), pages 131-143, September.
  18. Jaime Alonso-Carrera & Jordi Caballé & Xavier Raurich, 2004. "Consumption Externalities, Habit Formation and Equilibrium Efficiency," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 106(2), pages 231-251, 06.
  19. Chang, Wen-ya & Hsieh, Yi-ni & Lai, Ching-chong, 2000. "Social status, inflation, and endogenous growth in a cash-in-advance economy," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 16(3), pages 535-545, September.
  20. Jang-Ting Guo, 2005. "Tax Policy Under Keeping Up with the Joneses and Imperfect Competition," Annals of Economics and Finance, Society for AEF, vol. 6(1), pages 25-36, May.
  21. Michael Rauscher, 1997. "Conspicuous consumption, economic growth, and taxation," Journal of Economics, Springer, vol. 66(1), pages 35-42, February.
  22. Harald Uhlig & Lars Ljungqvist, 2000. "Tax Policy and Aggregate Demand Management under Catching Up with the Joneses," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(3), pages 356-366, June.
  23. Talvi, Ernesto & Vegh, Carlos A., 2005. "Tax base variability and procyclical fiscal policy in developing countries," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 78(1), pages 156-190, October.
  24. Christiane Clemens, 2004. "Status, Risk-Taking and Intertemporal Substitution in an Endogenous Growth Model," Journal of Economics, Springer, vol. 83(2), pages 103-123, November.
  25. Correia, Isabel H., 1996. "Should capital income be taxed in the steady state?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(1), pages 147-151, April.
  26. Heng-fu Zou, 1998. "The spirit of capitalism, social status, money, and accumulation," CEMA Working Papers 99, China Economics and Management Academy, Central University of Finance and Economics.
  27. Chang, Wen-ya & Tsai, Hsueh-fang & Lai, Ching-chong, 2004. "Taxation, growth, and the spirit of capitalism," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 20(4), pages 1011-1025, November.
  28. Walter Fisher & Franz Hof, 2000. "Relative consumption, economic growth, and taxation," Journal of Economics, Springer, vol. 72(3), pages 241-262, October.
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