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Tax policy and income inequality in the US, 1979-2007

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  • Bargain, Olivier
  • Dolls, Mathias
  • Immervoll, Herwig
  • Neumann, Dirk
  • Peichl, Andreas
  • Pestel, Nico
  • Siegloch, Sebastian

Abstract

We assess the effects of U.S. tax policy reforms on inequality by applying a new decomposition method allowing us to disentangle the policy effect from changing market incomes. Over the period 1979-2007, the cumulative policy effect aggravated inequality by increasing the income share of the top 20% in contrast to the middle class' share. The tax policy effect accounts for up to 29% of the total change in inequality; its contribution increases up to 41% if we take into account behavioral responses. While Republican policymakers increased inequality especially at the top, Democrats increased the income share of the bottom 80%.

Suggested Citation

  • Bargain, Olivier & Dolls, Mathias & Immervoll, Herwig & Neumann, Dirk & Peichl, Andreas & Pestel, Nico & Siegloch, Sebastian, 2014. "Tax policy and income inequality in the US, 1979-2007," ZEW Discussion Papers 14-001, ZEW - Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:zewdip:14001
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    Cited by:

    1. Matteo Picchio & Giacomo Valletta, 2018. "A welfare evaluation of the 1986 tax reform for married couples in the United States," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 25(3), pages 757-807, June.
    2. Peichl, Andreas & Pestel, Nico, 2014. "Earnings Inequality," IZA Policy Papers 89, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    3. Henk-Wim de Boer & Egbert Jongen, 2017. "Optimal Income Support for Lone Parents in the Netherlands: Are We There Yet?," CPB Discussion Paper 361.rdf, CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis.
    4. Mathias Dolls & Karina Doorley & Alari Paulus & Hilmar Schneider & Eric Sommer, 2019. "Demographic change and the European income distribution," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 17(3), pages 337-357, September.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Tax policy; Inequality; Redistribution; Partisan Politics; Political Economy;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • H23 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Externalities; Redistributive Effects; Environmental Taxes and Subsidies
    • H31 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - Household
    • H53 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Government Expenditures and Welfare Programs
    • P16 - Economic Systems - - Capitalist Systems - - - Political Economy of Capitalism

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