Notes on Estate Taxes, Redistribution, and the Concept of Balanced Growth Path Incidence

Stiglitz, Joseph E.

This paper shows that, because of capital accumulation effects, the estate tax may increase inequality of income and wealth. If the government takes actions to offset these accumulation effects, the tax will lead to an increase in equality of income and wealth. More generally, the paper argues that to evaluate the incidence of a tax in a growth context, one should compare policy changes which leave the aggregate capital labor ratio unchanged; we call this balanced growth incidence. But even with the capital labor ratio remaining unchanged, the estate tax may increase inequality in the distribution of consumption.


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Journal of Political Economy

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July 9, 2012