Creator: Krusell, Per and Ríos-Rull, José-Víctor Series: Conference on economics and politics Abstract:
Some economic policies and regulations seem to have only one purpose: to prevent technological development and economic growth from occurring. In this paper, we attempt to rationalize such policies as outcomes of voting equilibria. In our environment, some agents will be worse off if the economy grows, since their skills are complementary to resources that can be allocated to growth-stimulating activities. In the absence of arrangements where votes are traded, we show that for some initial skill distributions, the economy may stagnate due to growth-preventing policies. Different initial skill distributions, however, lead to voting outcomes and policies in support of technological development, and to persistent economic growth. In making our argument formally, we use a dynamic model with induced heterogeneity in agents' skills. In their voting decisions, agents compare how they will be affected under each policy alternative, and then vote for the policy that maximizes their welfare.
Subject (JEL): O41 - One, Two, and Multisector Growth Models and O31 - Innovation and Invention: Processes and Incentives
Creator: Krusell, Per, Quadrini, Vincenzo, and Ríos-Rull, José-Víctor Series: Lucas expectations anniversary conference Abstract:
We use political-equilibrium theory and the neoclassical growth model to compare the quantitative properties of different tax systems. We first explore whether societies which can only use consumption taxes fare better than societies which can only use income taxes. We find that if government outlays are used mainly for redistribution through transfers, then the answer is no, contradicting conventional wisdom in public finance. The reason for this is that when taxes are endogenous, and voted on by a selfish constituency, the distortionary effects of taxation are taken into account in choosing the level of taxation. Hence, political equilibria have the property that taxes which are relatively distortionary will be relatively low. These results are overturned if the government outlays are used only for the providing of public goods, implying that less distortionary taxes give better outcomes. We also investigate the properties of a tax systems in which both consumption and income taxes are used and voted on simultaneously. Since the ability to use more tax instruments allows redistribution with less distortions, the total amount of transfers tends to be higher here than in one-tax systems. Typically, tax systems tend to be self-perpetuating in the sense that changes of the tax system result in a reduction in the welfare of the median voter.
Keyword: Tax system, Tax, Consumption tax, Taxes, and Income tax Subject (JEL): E62 - Fiscal Policy, H24 - Personal Income and Other Nonbusiness Taxes and Subsidies; includes inheritance and gift taxes, and H25 - Business Taxes and Subsidies including sales and value-added (VAT)