Economic disruptions (techonological change, trade liberalization, immigration flows) generally create winners and losers, i.e., wage gains for some individuals and wage losses for others. The compensation problem consists of designing a reform of the existing income tax system that offsets the wefare losses by redistributing the gains of the winners. We derive a closed-form formula for the compensating tax reform and its impact on the government budget when only distortionary tax instruments are available and wages are determined endogenously in general equilibrium. We apply this result to the compensation of automation in the U.S. and Germany.
TSE Working Paper, n. 19-1051, November 2019