Ricardian Consumers With Keynesian Propensities
NBER Working Paper No. 1400 (Also Reprint No. r0821)
In this paper, we examine Ricardian equivalence of debt and tax finance in a world in which taxes are not lump-sum but are levied on risky labor income. First, we show that the marginal propensity to consume out of a tax cut, coupled with a future income tax increase, is positive under reasonable assumptions regarding preferences toward risk. Second, we document that the degree of income uncertainty facing the typical individual orfamily is large. Third, we show that, for plausible utility function parameters and distributions of future income, the MPC out of a tax cut is quantitatively large. Indeed, the MPC out of a tax cut, coupled with a future income tax increase, can be closer to the Keynesian value that ignores the future tax liabilities than to the Ricardian value that treats future taxes as if they were lump-sum.
Published: American Economic Review, Vol. 76 (September 1986): 676-691.