Pareto Efficient Income Taxation when People are Inequality Averse

Olof Johansson-Stenman (University of Gothenburg - Sweden)

November 13, 2015, 11:20–12:30

Room MS 003


This paper deals with tax policy responses to inequality aversion by examining the first-best Pareto efficient marginal tax structure when people are inequality averse. In doing so, we distinguish between five different widely used mesures of inequality. The results show that empirically and experimentally quantified degrees of inequality aversion have potentially very strong implications for Pareto efficient marginal income taxation. It also turns out that the exact type of inequality aversion (self-centered vs. non-self-centered), and measures of inequality used, matter a great deal for the structure of efficient income taxation. For example, based on simulation results the preferences suggested by Fehr and Schmidt (1999) imply monotonically increasing marginal income taxes, with large negative marginal tax rates for low-income individuals and large positive marginal tax rates for high-income individuals. In contrast, the often considered similar model by Bolton and Ockenfels (2000) implies close to zero marginal income tax rates for all.


Olof Johansson-Stenman (University of Gothenburg - Sweden), Pareto Efficient Income Taxation when People are Inequality Averse, Public Economics, TSE, November 13, 2015, 11:20–12:30, room MS 003.