NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Consumption Taxes and Economic Efficiency in a Stochastic OLG Economy

Shinichi Nishiyama, Kent Smetters

NBER Working Paper No. 9492
Issued in February 2003
NBER Program(s):   PE

Fundamental tax reform is examined in a heterogeneous overlapping-generations (OLG) model in which agents face idiosyncratic earnings shocks and uncertain life spans. Following Auerbach and Kotlikoff (1987), a Lump-Sum Redistribution Authority is used to rigorously examine efficiency gains over the transition path. A progressive income tax is replaced with a flat consumption tax (for example, a value-added tax or a national retail sales tax). If shocks are insurable (that is, no risk), this reform improves (interim) efficiency, a result consistent with the previous literature. But if, more realistically, shocks are uninsurable, this reform reduces efficiency, even though national wealth and output increase over the entire transition path. This efficiency loss, in large part, stems from reduced intragenerational risk sharing that was previously provided by the progressive tax system

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w9492

Published: Nishiyama, Shinichi and Kent Smetters. “Consumption Taxes, Risk Sharing and Economic Efficiency.” Journal of Political Economy 113, 5 (October 2005): 1088 – 1115.

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