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Redistribution in Switzerland: Social Cohesion or Simple Smoothing of Lifetime Incomes?

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  • Monika Engler

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Abstract

Using the example of Switzerland, this paper examines the extent to which the state and the social security institutions change the income distribution. Two sets of questions are examined: (1) Who benefits from the public services, and who bears the public costs? (2) To what extent does an annual redistribution involve redistribution (a) across households with different lifetime income, and (b) across different phases of life within the same households? Budget incidence analyses and pseudo panel procedures allow to compare annual and lifetime household incomes that arise before and after transfers. The results suggest that public interventions induce substantial redistribution, which is due primarily, however, to income-smoothing transfers within households and not to redistribution across households.

Suggested Citation

  • Monika Engler, 2010. "Redistribution in Switzerland: Social Cohesion or Simple Smoothing of Lifetime Incomes?," University of St. Gallen Department of Economics working paper series 2010 2010-02, Department of Economics, University of St. Gallen.
  • Handle: RePEc:usg:dp2010:2010-02
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Verbeek, Marno & Nijman, Theo, 1992. "Can Cohort Data Be Treated as Genuine Panel Data?," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 17(1), pages 9-23.
    2. Deaton, Angus, 1985. "Panel data from time series of cross-sections," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 30(1-2), pages 109-126.
    3. Nelissen, Jan H. M., 1998. "Annual versus lifetime income redistribution by social security," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(2), pages 223-249, May.
    4. Aaron, Henry & McGuire, Martin, 1970. "Public Goods and Income Distribution," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 38(6), pages 907-920, November.
    5. Browning, Martin & Deaton, Angus & Irish, Margaret, 1985. "A Profitable Approach to Labor Supply and Commodity Demands over the Life-Cycle," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 53(3), pages 503-543, May.
    6. Cowell, Frank A, 1984. "The Structure of American Income Inequality," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 30(3), pages 351-375, September.
    7. Davies, James B & St-Hilaire, France & Whalley, John, 1984. "Some Calculations of Lifetime Tax Incidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(4), pages 633-649, September.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Budget Incidence Analysis; Redistribution; Lifetime Income Smoothing; Pseudo Panel Procedure;

    JEL classification:

    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • H22 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Incidence

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