The Distribution of Income and Fiscal Incidence by Age and Gender: Some Evidence from New Zealand
Victoria University of Wellington Working Paper in Public Finance No. 10/2013
49 Pages Posted: 7 Jan 2014
Date Written: April 30, 2013
This paper examines the age and gender dimensions of income distribution and fiscal incidence in New Zealand using Household Expenditure Survey (HES) data for 2010 and a non-behavioural micro-simulation model. Since many fiscal policies are likely to have quite different incidences across age groups and genders, and with population ageing changing the age and gender composition of the voting population in many countries, age/gender dimensions of fiscal incidence become increasingly relevant. While this single ‘age distribution snapshot’ cannot fully capture lifecycle incidences, it avoids the complex and uncertain assumptions implicit in the latter and is an important component of lifetime redistribution calculations. We explore alternative methods of intra-family allocation of resources including ‘unequal share’ assumptions based on recent research into how families allocate their spending. Our evidence, which in general is not highly sensitive to sharing assumptions, suggests a strong ‘life cycle’ aspect to fiscal incidence whereby net tax liabilities are low, and generally negative, at younger and older ages but positive during much of the ‘working age’ period. Women, on average, are found to have a systematically and persistently lower net fiscal liability than men, most pronounced at older ages when greater female longevity exercises a strong influence. Nevertheless, considerable heterogeneity of fiscal incidence for both men and women is observed with the distributions of various fiscal incidence measures showing substantial overlap.
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