The Optimal Taxation of Height: A Case Study of Utilitarian Income Redistribution

28 Pages Posted: 26 May 2009 Last revised: 28 Jan 2011

See all articles by N. Gregory Mankiw

N. Gregory Mankiw

Harvard University - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Matthew Weinzierl

Harvard University - Department of Economics

Multiple version iconThere are 3 versions of this paper

Date Written: May 2009

Abstract

Should the income tax include a credit for short taxpayers and a surcharge for tall ones? The standard Utilitarian framework for tax analysis answers this question in the affirmative. Moreover, a plausible parameterization using data on height and wages implies a substantial height tax: a tall person earning $50,000 should pay $4,500 more in tax than a short person. One interpretation is that personal attributes correlated with wages should be considered more widely for determining taxes. Alternatively, if policies such as a height tax are rejected, then the standard Utilitarian framework must fail to capture intuitive notions of distributive justice.

Suggested Citation

Mankiw, N. Gregory and Weinzierl, Matthew, The Optimal Taxation of Height: A Case Study of Utilitarian Income Redistribution (May 2009). NBER Working Paper No. w14976. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1408896

N. Gregory Mankiw (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Department of Economics ( email )

Littauer Center
Room 223
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-495-4301 (Phone)
617-495-7730 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Matthew Weinzierl

Harvard University - Department of Economics ( email )

Littauer Center
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
38
Abstract Views
462
PlumX Metrics