A Tax Dead on Arrival: Classical Liberalism, Inheritance, and Social Mobility

Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy, Forthcoming

25 Pages Posted: 31 May 2017 Last revised: 12 Jul 2018

Date Written: May 29, 2017

Abstract

Historically, it is safe to say that very few laws did as much to stoke inequality as laws touching descents and hereditary transmissions. This paper attempts to see if the classical liberal tradition can endorse inheritance taxation so as to further fair equality of opportunity, as well as to lessen inequality of undeserved wealth. It argues that fair equality of opportunity is a necessary feature of market societies to make sure that they remain competitive. Hence, inheritance taxation is most likely necessary from a classical liberal point of view as an instrument of social mobility to counter notable problems of social immobility, say hereditary vocational stratification, which a system of private property rights creates.

Keywords: Classical Liberalism, Equality of Opportunity, Friedrich Hayek, Inheritance Taxation, John Rawls, Property Rights

JEL Classification: D31, P14, K34

Suggested Citation

Melkevik, Åsbjørn, A Tax Dead on Arrival: Classical Liberalism, Inheritance, and Social Mobility (May 29, 2017). Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2976450

Åsbjørn Melkevik (Contact Author)

Harvard University ( email )

1875 Cambridge Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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