Tax Policy and Income Inequality in the U.S., 1978-2009: A Decomposition Approach

48 Pages Posted: 22 Aug 2011

See all articles by Olivier Bargain

Olivier Bargain

IZA Institute of Labor Economics; University College Dublin (UCD)

Mathias Dolls

University of Cologne - Faculty of Management, Economics and Social Sciences; IZA

Herwig Immervoll

World Bank, Europe and Central Asia; Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) - Social Policy Division; IZA Institute of Labor Economics; ISER Institute for Social and Economic Research; University of Canberra - National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling (NATSEM); United Nations - European Centre for Social Welfare Policy and Research

Dirk Neumann

University of Cologne

Andreas Peichl

ZEW – Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research; University of Mannheim - School of Economics (VWL); IZA Institute of Labor Economics; University of Essex - Institute for Social and Economic Research (ISER)

Nico Pestel

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Sebastian Siegloch

IZA Institute of Labor Economics; University of Mannheim - Department of Economics; ZEW – Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research - Corporate Taxation and Public Finance Research; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Abstract

We assess the effects of U.S. tax policy reforms on inequality by applying a new decomposition method that allows us to disentangle mechanical effects due to changes in pre-tax incomes from direct effects of policy reforms. While tax reforms implemented under Democrat administrations, in particular the EITC reforms in the 1990s and the ARRA in 2009, had an equalizing effect at the lower half of the distribution, the disequalizing effects of Republican reforms are due to tax cuts for high-income families. As a consequence of partisan politics, overall policy effects almost cancel out over the whole time period.

Keywords: tax policy, inequality, redistribution, political economy, Great Recession

JEL Classification: H23, H31, H53, P16

Suggested Citation

Bargain, Olivier and Dolls, Mathias and Immervoll, Herwig and Neumann, Dirk and Peichl, Andreas and Pestel, Nico and Siegloch, Sebastian, Tax Policy and Income Inequality in the U.S., 1978-2009: A Decomposition Approach. IZA Discussion Paper No. 5910. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1913617

Olivier Bargain (Contact Author)

IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

University College Dublin (UCD) ( email )

Belfield, Dublin 4 4
Ireland
+353 1 716 8357 (Phone)
+353 1 283 0068 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.ucd.ie/economics/staff/obargain/obargain.htm

Mathias Dolls

University of Cologne - Faculty of Management, Economics and Social Sciences ( email )

Richard-Strauss-Str. 2
Cologne, D-50923
Germany

IZA

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

HOME PAGE: http://www.iza.org/

Herwig Immervoll

World Bank, Europe and Central Asia ( email )

1818 H Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20433
United States

Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) - Social Policy Division ( email )

2 rue Andre Pascal
Paris Cedex 16, 75775
France
(33 1) 45 24 92 14 (Phone)
(33 1) 44 30 61 78 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.oecd.org/els/social

IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

HOME PAGE: http://www.iza.org/profile?key=1935

ISER Institute for Social and Economic Research ( email )

Wivenhoe Park
Colchester CO4 3SQ
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://www.iser.essex.ac.uk/people/research-associates

University of Canberra - National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling (NATSEM) ( email )

Canberra, ACT 2601
AUSTRALIA

HOME PAGE: http://www.canberra.edu.au/centres/natsem/people/associates/herwig-immervoll

United Nations - European Centre for Social Welfare Policy and Research ( email )

Berggasse 17
Vienna, A1010
Austria

HOME PAGE: http://www.euro.centre.org

Dirk Neumann

University of Cologne ( email )

Albertus-Magnus-Platz
Cologne, 50923
Germany

Andreas Peichl

ZEW – Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research ( email )

P.O. Box 10 34 43
L 7,1
D-68034 Mannheim, 68034
Germany

University of Mannheim - School of Economics (VWL) ( email )

Mannheim 68131
Germany

IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

University of Essex - Institute for Social and Economic Research (ISER)

Wivenhoe Park
Colchester CO4 3SQ
United Kingdom

Nico Pestel

IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Sebastian Siegloch

IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

University of Mannheim - Department of Economics ( email )

D-68131 Mannheim
Germany

ZEW – Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research - Corporate Taxation and Public Finance Research ( email )

United States

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute) ( email )

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
125
Abstract Views
654
rank
229,854
PlumX Metrics