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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Review of Economic Dynamics, Volume 11, Issue 1, January 2008, Pages 18–43
This paper analyzes the effects of intergenerational conflict on capital and labor income tax rates, transfers, and government spending in a model of multidimensional policy choice. The different nature of tax liabilities for the young and the old can explain why the old receive large gross lump-sum transfers through social security, while the young receive little or none. A natural link also emerges between the size of the government as a provider of public goods and the magnitude of transfers that the same government will implement.
The demographic changes that are taking place in the developed countries have led to a great interest in the economic implications of an aging population. Most of the interest has concentrated on the social-security systems in place in many countries; because of their pay-as-you-go structure, they may commit the governments to burdensome or even unsustainable transfers to future old generations.1 The aim of this paper is to look at the fiscal effects of intergenerational conflicts from a somewhat broader perspective. Differences in age are an important source of heterogeneity across individuals in modern societies: they account for a big component of the variability in asset holdings as well as in sources of income. As a consequence, the conflict between young and old is likely to arise on a broader set of fiscal instruments than the size of social-security transfers. In particular, the young and the old will have very different preferences regarding labor and capital income taxation, the former hitting mostly the young and the middle-aged, the latter hitting disproportionately the oldThis paper highlights two features of fiscal policies: first, they involve setting several policy parameters at the same time, so the political choice cannot be reduced to a mere unidimensional problem; second, government policies have dynamic implications, as current choices will influence the evolution of the economy and future policies, and this will be taken into account by rational, forward-looking agents. The dynamics of political and economic decisions interact, and we analyze the problem using the techniques of political-economic equilibria devised by Krusell and Ríos-Rull (1996) and Krusell et al. (1997).3 The economy I study is characterized by overlapping generations living two periods; the agents spend their first period working and accumulating capital that is used to provide for their old age. Besides their private consumption, both the young and the old value a public good; the presence of a political system is justified by the need to finance the provision of the public good. In order to finance the public good, the government can levy proportional taxes on capital and labor income, at different rates.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
The main purpose of this paper was to study how the intergenerational conflict shapes government policy when taxes and transfers are jointly determined. In particular, we showed that in many instances looking at social-security transfers alone might give a misleading picture of generational accounting, as changes in the taxes collected on capital income might sometimes more than offset any changes in old-age pension payments. We showed how the different nature of tax liabilities for the young and the old can explain why the old receive large (gross) lump-sum transfers while the young receive little or none. In an environment where government policy is determined sequentially, the tax base of the old is determined by their past decisions, whereas the tax base of the young is determined by their current decisions: for this reason, the distortions arising from taxation are a sunk cost for the old and they are more willing to accept an increase in the tax rate in exchange for transfers. The paper suggests also a connection between the general size of the government and the level of transfers. When the role of the government as a provider of public goods is more important, the hold-up power of any group that values the public goods less is enhanced and can be used to extract larger transfers. An important question that remains open are the determinants of the elderly’s ability to extract large transfers from young generations. Within the model described here, this happens because the young are assumed to value public goods more than the old. Some studies have tied social security directly to the emergence of other government programs benefiting the young, such as public education.28 Nonetheless, this is unlikely to be the only explanation, and it would be interesting to explore interactions with other explanations of the social security system, such as the “social asset" role proposed by Kotlikoff et al. (1988) and Cooley and Soares (1996, 1999)