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The Composition Effects of Tax-Based Consolidations on Income Inequality

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  • Ciminelli, Gabriele
  • Ernst, Ekkehard
  • Giuliodori, Massimo
  • Merola, Rossana

Abstract

Many advanced economies have recently embarked on fiscal austerity. As this has come at a time of high and rising income disparities, policy-makers have fretted about the inequality effects of fiscal consolidations. We shed new light on this issue by empirically investigating the (composition) effects of tax-based consolidations on income inequality, output and labour market conditions for a sample of 16 OECD countries over the period 1978-2012. We find that tax-based consolidations reduce income inequality, but at the cost of weaker economic activity. However, tax composition does matter. Indirect taxes reduce income inequality by more than direct taxes, possibly due to the operation of a positive labour supply channel. Higher indirect taxes increase the price of the consumption basket and create incentives for agents to increase their labour supply. We find this effect to be stronger for middle aged women. Looking at specific instruments, general consumption taxes and personal taxes are the most suited to reduce inequality while at the same time minimizing the equity-efficiency trade-off.

Suggested Citation

  • Ciminelli, Gabriele & Ernst, Ekkehard & Giuliodori, Massimo & Merola, Rossana, 2017. "The Composition Effects of Tax-Based Consolidations on Income Inequality," GLO Discussion Paper Series 25, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:glodps:25
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    Cited by:

    1. European Commission, 2018. "Tax Policies in the European Union: 2018 Survey," Taxation Survey 2018, Directorate General Taxation and Customs Union, European Commission.
    2. Tingyun Chen & Jean-Jacques Hallaert & Alexander Pitt & Haonan Qu & Maximilien Queyranne & Alaina Rhee & Anna Shabunina & Jérôme Vandenbussche & Irene Yackovlev, 2018. "Inequality and Poverty across Generations in the European Union," IMF Staff Discussion Notes 18/01, International Monetary Fund.
    3. van der Wielen, Wouter, 2020. "The macroeconomic effects of tax changes: Evidence using real-time data for the European Union," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 90(C), pages 302-321.
    4. Vanesa Jorda & Jose M. Alonso, 2020. "What works to mitigate and reduce relative (and absolute) inequality?: A systematic review," WIDER Working Paper Series wp-2020-152, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Income distribution; Tax-based consolidation; Fiscal consolidation; Labour force participation; Tax composition;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • E2 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment
    • H2 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue
    • O1 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development

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