Benefit Incidence with Incentive Effects, Measurement Errors and Latent Heterogeneity

31 Pages Posted: 20 Apr 2016

See all articles by Martin Ravallion

Martin Ravallion

Georgetown University

Shaohua Chen

World Bank; World Bank - Development Research Group (DECRG)

Date Written: August 1, 2013

Abstract

Empirical studies of tax and benefit incidence routinely ignore behavioral responses and measurement errors. This paper offers an econometric method of estimating the mean benefit withdrawal rate (marginal tax rate) allowing for incentive effects, measurement errors, and correlated latent heterogeneity in incidence. Under the method's identifying assumptions, a feasible instrumental variables estimator corrects for incentive effects and measurement errors, and provides a bound for the true value when there is correlated incidence heterogeneity. A case study for a large cash transfer program in China indicates that past methods of assessing benefit incidence using either nominal official rates or raw tabulations from survey data are deceptive. The program entails a nominal 100 percent benefit withdrawal rate -- a poverty trap. However, the paper finds that the actual rate is much lower, and clearly too low in the light of the literature on optimal income taxation. The paper discusses likely reasons based on the qualitative observations.

Keywords: Rural Poverty Reduction, Labor Policies, Services & Transfers to Poor, Inequality, Economic Theory & Research

Suggested Citation

Ravallion, Martin and Chen, Shaohua, Benefit Incidence with Incentive Effects, Measurement Errors and Latent Heterogeneity (August 1, 2013). World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. 6573, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2311106

Martin Ravallion (Contact Author)

Georgetown University ( email )

Washington, DC 20057
United States

Shaohua Chen

World Bank ( email )

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

World Bank - Development Research Group (DECRG)

1818 H. Street, N.W.
MSN3-311
Washington, DC 20433
United States

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