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Privatization, public investment, and capital income taxation

Author

Listed:
  • Huizinga, Harry
  • Nielsen, Soren Bo

Abstract

The authors investigate the optimal boundary between the public and private production sectors. They use a model in which government and private production coexist -in which a range of production activities can be carried out by either the government or the private sector. In effect, the government determines which activities to maintain within the public sector and which to privatize. In choosing the sectoral boundary, the government trades off the relative inefficiency of marginal government production against the private investment distortion created by tax policy. In an open economy, the private investment decision, is distorted by a source-based income tax. In a closed economy, the private investment decision is distorted by either a private investment tax or a savings tax. Either tax produces a wedge between the gross return on investment and the net-of-tax return received by savers. Because of this tax wedge, the private cost of capital exceeds the shadow cost of public capital. Optimally, the government sector is shown to be"too large"in the sense that the government carries out some activities in which it has an efficiency disadvantage and the private sector has an efficiency advantage. And it invests more in those activities than the private sector would. Generally the size of the government sector is related positively to the investment tax wedge. The level of investment taxes -and thus the size of the state production sector- may be affected by tax competition in the international economy. As international capital becomes more mobile, there seems to be more scope for international (investment) tax competition. As a result of tax competition, perhaps, corporate income tax rates have been on a downward trend in European countries. In Europe, the general lowering of corporate income taxes has coincided with a trend toward privatizing government activities. The authors focus on the relationship between capital income taxes and the size of the government production sector. Analogously, one could consider the relationship between labor income taxes and the size of the state sector. In that instance, the model predicts that a formerly state-owned enterprise, after privatization, reduces its payroll. Privatization also seems to lead to reduced employment levels. These results hold in both open economy and closed economy versions of the model.

Suggested Citation

  • Huizinga, Harry & Nielsen, Soren Bo, 1997. "Privatization, public investment, and capital income taxation," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1741, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:1741
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Sandmo, Agnar & Dreze, Jacques H, 1971. "Discount Rates for Public Investment in Closed and Open Economies," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 38(152), pages 395-412, November.
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    17. Laban, Raul & Wolf, Holger C, 1993. "Large-Scale Privatization in Transition Economies," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(5), pages 1199-1210, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Li, Shiyu & Lin, Shuanglin, 2011. "Is there any gain from social security privatization?," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 22(3), pages 278-289, September.
    2. Li, Shiyu & Lin, Shuanglin, 2016. "Population aging and China's social security reforms," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 38(1), pages 65-95.
    3. Clemens Fuest & Li Liu, 2015. "Does Ownership Affect the Impact of Taxes on Firm Behavior? Evidence from China," CESifo Working Paper Series 5316, CESifo Group Munich.
    4. Dore, Mohammed H. I. & Kushner, Joseph & Zumer, Klemen, 2004. "Privatization of water in the UK and France--What can we learn?," Utilities Policy, Elsevier, vol. 12(1), pages 41-50, March.
    5. Gordon, Roger H, 2001. "Taxes and Privatization," CEPR Discussion Papers 2977, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    International Terrorism&Counterterrorism; Economic Theory&Research; Environmental Economics&Policies; Labor Policies; Public Sector Economics&Finance; Economic Theory&Research; Environmental Economics&Policies; Banks&Banking Reform; Public Sector Economics&Finance; Trade and Regional Integration;

    JEL classification:

    • D24 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Production; Cost; Capital; Capital, Total Factor, and Multifactor Productivity; Capacity
    • H21 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Efficiency; Optimal Taxation

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