Automation, Taxes and Transfers with International Rivalry
59 Pages Posted: 21 Sep 2018
Date Written: September 18, 2018
Continued automation and declines in low-skill shares of GDP have been widespread globally and linked to inequality. We examine the long-term, global consequences of policies that foster automation or address the distributional consequences of it, using a six-region global macro model. Results depend on whether welfare criteria are Rawlsian, emphasizing the performance of low-skill households, Benthamite, which aggregate pecuniary measures, capital-owner friendly, or simply based on real GDP. Even where automation delivers only bias against the low skilled, we find that the fostering it is a dominant strategy under all but the Rawlsian criterion. We then consider a post automation scenario in which worker displacement is significant, examining inequality constraining but balance-preserving fiscal interventions, such as tax-financed “earned income tax credits”. These generate only small international spillover effects and are for the most part not preferred under all criteria except the Rawlsian one.
Keywords: Automation, income distribution, taxes, transfers, global modelling
JEL Classification: C68, D33, F21, F42, O33
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