NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

The Optimal Taxation of Height: A Case Study of Utilitarian Income Redistribution

N. Gregory Mankiw, Matthew Weinzierl

NBER Working Paper No. 14976
Issued in May 2009
NBER Program(s):   ME   PE

Should the income tax include a credit for short taxpayers and a surcharge for tall ones? The standard Utilitarian framework for tax analysis answers this question in the affirmative. Moreover, a plausible parameterization using data on height and wages implies a substantial height tax: a tall person earning $50,000 should pay $4,500 more in tax than a short person. One interpretation is that personal attributes correlated with wages should be considered more widely for determining taxes. Alternatively, if policies such as a height tax are rejected, then the standard Utilitarian framework must fail to capture intuitive notions of distributive justice.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w14976

Published: N. Gregory Mankiw & Matthew Weinzierl, 2010. "The Optimal Taxation of Height: A Case Study of Utilitarian Income Redistribution," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 2(1), pages 155-76, February. citation courtesy of

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