Should Legal Rules Favor the Poor? Clarifying the Role of Legal Rules and the Income Tax in Redistributing Income

January 2000

20 Pages Posted: 23 Jun 2000

See all articles by Louis Kaplow

Louis Kaplow

Harvard Law School; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Steven Shavell

Harvard Law School; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: Olin Center Working Paper No. 272

Abstract

In our 1994 article in this Journal, we demonstrated that legal rules should not be adjusted to disfavor the rich and favor the poor in order to redistribute income, because the income tax and transfer system is a more efficient means of redistribution. In this article, we revisit our argument and others that favor relying on the income tax system to redistribute income, and we then focus on qualifications to our argument that we previously offered. In particular, we elaborate on a qualification that is the subject of Sanchirico's article in this issue of the Journal and explain why it has only a tangential bearing on the question whether legal rules should favor the poor and it is of doubtful practical importance.

JEL Classification: H23

Suggested Citation

Kaplow, Louis and Shavell, Steven, Should Legal Rules Favor the Poor? Clarifying the Role of Legal Rules and the Income Tax in Redistributing Income (Olin Center Working Paper No. 272). January 2000. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=229482 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.229482

Louis Kaplow (Contact Author)

Harvard Law School ( email )

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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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Steven Shavell

Harvard Law School ( email )

1575 Massachusetts
Hauser 406
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-495-3668 (Phone)
617-496-2256 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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