Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Discussion Paper Series in Economics,
Norwegian School of Economics, Department of Economics

No 3/2012: Tax policy and fair inequality.

Alexander W. Cappelen () and Bertil Tungodden ()
Additional contact information
Alexander W. Cappelen: Dept. of Economics, Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration, Postal: NHH , Department of Economics, Helleveien 30, N-5045 Bergen, Norway
Bertil Tungodden: Dept. of Economics, Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration, Postal: NHH , Department of Economics, Helleveien 30, N-5045 Bergen, Norway

Abstract: The standard economic approach to tax policy has to a large extent relied on welfarist theories of justice, in particular the utilitarian view that the government should try to maximize the sum of individual welfare. This welfarist framework has proved a productive point of departure for much economic analysis, but it has an important limitation in its inability to take into account considerations of personal responsibility. Welfarist theories evaluate policies solely on the basis of their consequences for individual welfare, and thus do not assign any intrinsic importance to how a specific situation came about.

Keywords: Tax policy; Income inequality; Fairness.

JEL-codes: D31; D63; J31

17 pages, February 15, 2012

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