- International Monetary Fund
- Published Date:
- September 1986
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DeWulf, LucH., “Taxation and Income Distribution in Less Developed Countries: An Economist’s Guide,” (unpublished, Washington: International Monetary Fund, October 30, 1981).
DeWulf, LucH., “Taxation and Income Distribution,” in Comparative Tax Studies: Essays in Honor of Richard Goode, ed. by SijbrenCnossen(Amsterdam; New York: North-Holland, 1983), pp. 345–70.
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Jallade, Jean Pierre,Public Expenditure on Education and Income Distribution in Colombia, The World Bank Staff Occasional Papers No. 18, distributed by The Johns Hopkins University Press (Baltimore, 1974).
Jencks, Christopher,and others, Inequality: A Reassessment of the Effect of Family and Schooling in America (New York: Basic Books, 1972).
Johnson, Omotunde, and JoanneSalop,“Distributional Aspects of Stabilization Programs in Developing Countries,”Staff Papers, International Monetary Fund (Washington), Vol. 27 (March1980), pp. 1–23.
Kakwani, Nanak C.,Income Inequality and Poverty: Methods of Estimation and Policy Applications (New York: Oxford University Press, 1980).
Kanapathy, V.,“Public Enterprise and Income Distribution,” in The Role of the Public Enterprise in Development, ed. by ChakritNoranitipadungkarn (Manila: Europa, 1979).
Keller, Wouter J.,Tax Incidence: A General Equilibrium Approach (Amsterdam; New York: North-Holland, 1980).
Kelly, Margaret R.,“Fiscal Adjustment and Fund-Supported Programs, 1971–80,”Staff Papers, International Monetary Fund (Washington), Vol. 29 (December1982), pp. 561–602.
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Mallon, Richard D.“Performance Evaluation and Compensation of the Social Burdens of Public Enterprise in LDCs,” Discussion Paper No. 116 (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Institute for International Development, Harvard University Press, April1981).
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McLure, Charles E.,“The Incidence of Taxation in West Malaysia,”Malayan Economic Review (Singapore), Vol. 17 (October1972), pp. 66–98.
McLure, Charles E., (1974a), “The Distribution of Income and Tax Incidence in Panama: 1969,”Public Finance Quarterly (Beverly Hills, California), Vol. 2 (April1974), pp. 155–201.
McLure, Charles E., (1974b), “On the Theory and Methodology of Estimating Benefit and Expenditure Incidence” (mimeograph, Program of Development Studies, Rice University, Houston, 1974).
McLure, Charles E.,“The Relevance of the New View of the Incidence of the Property Tax in Less Developed Countries,” in The Taxation of Urban Property in Less Developed Countries, ed. by Roy W.Bahl (Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1979), pp. 51–76.
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Okonkwo, Ubadigbo“Export Taxes on Primary Products in Developing Countries: The Taxation of Cocoa Exports in West Africa” (unpublished, International Monetary Fund, Washington, 1978).
Okun, Arthur M.,Equality and Efficiency: The Big Tradeoff (Washington: The Brookings Institution, 1975).
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Pechman, Joseph A. and Benjamin A.Okner,Who Bears the Tax Burden? (Washington: The Brookings Institution, 1974).
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This view was expressed in Executive Board Decision No. 6056-(79/38), March 2, 1979, International Monetary Fund (1986), p. 26, paragraph 4.
See Grootaert and DeTray (1984), p. 9.
A study by Anand compared two surveys on the income distribution of Malaysia, taken in 1957 and 1970. These suggested that the Gini coefficient of the income distribution increased from 0.37 to 0.51, suggesting considerably greater equality in the latter period. Anand’s study suggests that even such a large difference gives no indication at all about what actually happened to inequality in Malaysia since the difference in results could be entirely due to differences in income concept and survey coverage.
It is also questionable if income comparisons will lead to meaningful results.
Dollar bills may sometimes replace the domestic currency as the phenomenon of currency substitution becomes prevalent.
If the economy only produced one good for which the demand by the rest of the world was perfectly elastic, reduced domestic absorption would simply imply lower imports or higher exports, and there would be no impact on sector incomes, but in the real world a reduction in aggregate demand affects the various domestic markets differently, and hence the domestic income distribution is affected.
The link between growth and distribution has been the subject of extensive research, but the evidence is still not conclusive. At present, it is generally believed that the absolute level of income earned by the poorest 40 percent rises throughout the development process but that their income share first decreases before increasing later in the development process. See Kuznets (1955), p.; Chenery and others (1974); and Bacha and Taylor (1978), p. 271.
For such a study in developed countries, see Tait (1967), p. 651.
In a recent cross-sectional study of 26 developing countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, and South America, the primary determinants considered for income distribution in the sample countries were increases in population, short-term economic growth, and educational equality. See Ram (1984). In general, taxation policies tend to play a rather marginal role in cross-sectional studies of income distribution.
In some countries the sales tax is progressive up to ranges at which the (progressive) income tax is applicable, so that the tax system as a whole may be progressive.
In a survey of tax incidence studies of 32 developing countries none was found that indicated a tax incidence that was more than moderately progressive. See Bird and De Wulf (1973); for a similar pessimistic view see Harberger (1977) and De Wulf (1983). As another study points out: “The problem is that in less-developed countries the direct tax base is too small to make direct taxes the major instrument of redistribution policy” (Adelman and Robinson (1978), p. 84).
See Tanzi (1982).
Expatriates receive a disproportionate share of the jobs with high salaries in developing countries, and they often specify and obtain their salaries net of tax.
The level of income represented by the multiple of 30 times per capita income after exemptions and deductions is equivalent to that represented by the multiple of 40 times per capita income before deductions and exemptions.
See Goode (1984).
See Tanzi (publication forthcoming). In a sample of 82 developing countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, and South America, the reliance on wealth and property taxes in overall tax revenue was 2.55 percent in 1979.
At the very lowest income ranges the consumption of goods on which sumptuary taxes are paid may increase faster than income owing to the common practice of low-income residents drinking untaxed home brews and smoking tobacco grown for personal consumption.
Cf., McLure and Thirsk (1973).
See Gandhi (1979). As discussed earlier there may be income levels for which a tax is progressive even though the general impact is regressive. With respect to consumer expenditures, of course, such consumption taxes can, and frequently are, progressive. For evidence on this see Government of India (1969).
Cf., Gandhi (1977).
See Corden (1974), p. 66 and Booth (1980a), who suggest that if governments need a minimum amount of revenue, export taxes could form part of the first-best tax package, especially if such taxes are easy to collect and administer.
See Goode (1984).
This argument could be generalized to any of the functional expenditure categories, which are identified in International Monetary Fund (1986b), pp. 147–48, as:
1. General Public Service
5. Social Security and Welfare
6. Housing and Community Amenities
7. Other Community and Social Services
8. Economic Services
9. Unallocable and Other Purposes
Some studies have indicated that education may not be an important determinant of income in developed countries. See Jencks, and others (1972).
See Aaron and McGuire (1970), who suggest that these outlays can be related to some presumed utility of money function.
Meerman (1979) concludes that public expenditures are very supportive of redistributional efforts in Malaysia but also observes that redistribution from the more affluent Chinese to the majority Malay has been a central tenet of government policy which has been facilitated by the physical separation of the two groups in urban and rural regions. Tanzi (1974) argues that the lower-income classes in Latin America are predominantly rural individuals who cannot take advantage of government programs and that without greater selectivity public expenditure in that region “may only continue or even aggravate the present redistribution process.”
Tait and Heller (1982) have attempted to approach these issues by using a variety of variables and regression analyses to “explain” different types of functional expenditure and thus determine if countries spend more or less for these purposes than comparable countries. This approach might thus be better characterized as descriptive rather than prescriptive, but it provides some tentative guidelines for comparison.
For a full economic classification of government expenditure, see International Monetary Fund (1986b), pp. 175–76.
Heller and Tait (1983), p. 42.
Large rural/urban wage differentials have also been cited as causing migration from rural to urban areas, increasing the demand for public services without necessarily creating a corresponding increase in supply owing to the high unemployment among these migrants. See Herrick (1965); and Todaro (1969).
Moreover, the actual amount spent for these purposes is often overstated by the practice of using these appropriations to supplement wages and salaries. In some countries civil servants travel extensively to qualify for relatively generous per diem allowances, while in others government employees sell government goods and services as a regular matter to increase their effective compensation.
See de Larosiere (1984b).
For a discussion of the wealth effects of debt financing, see Section VII.
See Wangwe (1983).
On the Indian subcontinent, for example, government procurement of domestically produced foodgrain, along with a mechanism to restrict interstate trading in foodgrains, started during World War II (Lele (1971)).
For an excellent volume devoted to an exploration of many of these issues, see Schultz (1978), especially the contributions by Schultz, Brown, and Able.
A recent numerical examination of food subsidies indicates that the loss in agricultural income owing to the price-depressing effect of food subsidies for the economy as a whole far exceeds the budgetary costs of the subsidy (Schneider (1985)).
In a study of income distribution and poverty in Mexico, Bergsman (1983) notes: “Poverty in Mexico turns out to look pretty much like poverty in virtually every other middle-income country that has much of it.... It is mostly in rural areas, and mostly among people who are not only economically but also socially and usually culturally different from their more affluent compatriots. It appears in countries that exploited agriculture to finance industrialization, by lowering the price of agriculture’s products relative to the price of manufactures. It appears in ‘depressed areas.’ Brazil, Peru, Turkey, and the Philippines all share these characteristics,” p. 43.
See Government of India (1984). It should be noted, however, that it may not always be explicitly stated as an initial objective of enterprises but often becomes an important element of their policy (Tait (1977)).
Distribution has often been considered more as an ethical question and a social act, distinct from the “scientific” or “objective” issues of resource allocation and market efficiency. See O’Connor (1974). Also, distribution was seen as establishing equal opportunity, and economic growth (or increase in the size of the pie rather than its distribution) was viewed as the main answer. In most areas of development economics, there is substantial ambiguity as to which handicaps are to be removed first in economic growth. In the process, some studies have assumed away the problem. For example, Turvey (1971, p. 15), who examined the optimizing possibilities of enterprise operations, assumed that “the distribution of real income is not the concern of a public enterprise so that it should act as though that distribution were always ideal.”
See Premchand (1983a) for a discussion of these experiences. Trebat (1983) provides a detailed account of the experience in Brazil in this regard. Such policies have been pursued in nearly all countries including many industrial economies.
See Glade (1983) and Webb (1977) for a discussion of the experiences of Argentina and Peru. Glade suggests that there was a risk of unwittingly creating a “new class.” In India, the employees of the nationalized banking sector are generally believed to be a privileged class and their wage increases have sparked more demands for similar increases in other enterprises.
Even in regard to those areas where establishment of enterprises was expected to lead to better distribution, Kanapathy (1979) suggests that the new ventures in Malaysia might have “crowded” the traditional business areas owned by Bumiputras, the native Malay section of the population normally favored by government policies. Also, see Mallon (1982b); and Sheahan (1976).
The issue, however, is not simple. It may be assumed that the government knows what it is doing and that it reflects accurately the welfare function of the community at large. If the government decides to borrow and build hospitals rather than, say, a steel mill, this may represent a social choice even if in the long run this leads to a lower measured national output. If society decides that health and welfare are more important than the growth of national output, the lost output is not necessarily part of the burden of the debt. Moreover, private investors often avoid productive investments in favor of stores of value, such as gold, lowering the growth potential of the economy.
Examples of the incidence of particular taxes can be found in: Property Taxes: Bird (1963); Aaron (1975); Linn (1976); McLure (1979). Agricultural Taxation: Gandhi (1966). Sales Tax: Government of India (1969); Gandhi (1977, 1979). Payroll Tax: Brittain (1972). Excise Tax: Government of India (1969); Cnossen (1977); Catsambas (1980). Income Tax: Pechman and Okner (1974); Heller (1981). Wealth Taxes: Harberger (1962); Tait, Faria, Heller (1979),
This study, reported by Alderman and Von Braun (1984), is based on a survey of nearly 2,400 rural and urban households.
Numbers 1, 3, 4, and 21 of the Occasional Paper series are out of print.
Occasional Papers of the International Monetary Fund*
2. Economic Stabilization and Growth in Portugal, by Hans O. Schmitt. 1981.
5. Trade Policy Developments in Industrial Countries, by S.J. Anjaria, Z. Iqbal, L.L. Perez, and W.S. Tseng. 1981.
6. The Multilateral System of Payments: Keynes, Convertibility, and the International Monetary Fund’s Articles of Agreement, by Joseph Gold. 1981.
7. International Capital Markets: Recent Developments and Short-Term Prospects, 1981, by a Staff Team Headed by Richard C. Williams, with G.G. Johnson. 1981.
8. Taxation in Sub-Saharan Africa. Part I: Tax Policy and Administration in Sub-Saharan Africa, by Carlos A. Aguirre, Peter S. Griffith, and M. Zühtü Yücelik. Part II: A Statistical Evaluation of Taxation in Sub-Saharan Africa, by Vito Tanzi. 1981.
9. World Economic Outlook: A Survey by the Staff of the International Monetary Fund. 1982.
10. International Comparisons of Government Expenditure, by Alan A. Tait and Peter S. Heller. 1982.
11. Payments Arrangements and the Expansion of Trade in Eastern and Southern Africa, by Shailendra J. Anjaria, Sena Eken, and John F. Laker. 1982.
12. Effects of Slowdown in Industrial Countries on Growth in Non-Oil Developing Countries, by Morris Goldstein and Mohsin S. Khan. 1982.
13. Currency Convertibility in the Economic Community of West African States, by John B. McLenaghan, Saleh M. Nsouli, and Klaus-Walter Riechel. 1982.
14. International Capital Markets: Developments and Prospects, 1982, by a Staff Team Headed by Richard C. Williams, with G.G. Johnson. 1982.
15. Hungary: An Economic Survey, by a Staff Team Headed by Patrick de Fontenay. 1982.
16. Developments in International Trade Policy, by S.J. Anjaria, Z. Iqbal, N. Kirmani, and L.L. Perez. 1982.
17. Aspects of the International Banking Safety Net, by G.G. Johnson, with Richard K. Abrams. 1983.
18. Oil Exporters’ Economic Development in an Interdependent World, by Jahangir Amuzegar. 1983.
19. The European Monetary System: The Experience, 1979–82, by Horst Ungerer, with Owen Evans and Peter Nyberg. 1983.
20. Alternatives to the Central Bank in the Developing World, by Charles Collyns. 1983.
22. Interest Rate Policies in Developing Countries: A Study by the Research Department of the International Monetary Fund. 1983.
23. International Capital Markets: Developments and Prospects, 1983, by Richard Williams, Peter Keller, John Lipsky, and Donald Mathieson. 1983.
24. Government Employment and Pay: Some International Comparisons, by Peter S. Heller and Alan A. Tait. 1983. Revised 1984.
25. Recent Multilateral Debt Restructurings with Official and Bank Creditors, by a Staff Team Headed by E. Brau and R.C. Williams, with P.M. Keller and M. Nowak. 1983.
26. The Fund, Commercial Banks, and Member Countries, by Paul Mentre. 1984.
27. World Economic Outlook: A Survey by the Staff of the International Monetary Fund. 1984.
28. Exchange Rate Volatility and World Trade: A Study by the Research Department of the International Monetary Fund. 1984.
29. Issues in the Assessment of the Exchange Rates of Industrial Countries: A Study by the Research Department of the International Monetary Fund. 1984
30. The Exchange Rate System—Lessons of the Past and Options for the Future: A Study by the Research Department of the International Monetary Fund. 1984
31. International Capital Markets: Developments and Prospects, 1984, by Maxwell Watson, Peter Keller, and Donald Mathieson. 1984.
32. World Economic Outlook, September 1984: Revised Projections by the Staff of the International Monetary Fund. 1984.
33. Foreign Private Investment in Developing Countries: A Study by the Research Department of the International Monetary Fund. 1985.
34. Adjustment Programs in Africa: The Recent Experience, by Justin B. Zulu and Saleh M. Nsouli. 1985.
35. The West African Monetary Union: An Analytical Review, by Rattan J. Bhatia. 1985.
36. Formulation of Exchange Rate Policies in Adjustment Programs, by a Staff Team Headed by G.G. Johnson. 1985.
37. Export Credit Cover Policies and Payments Difficulties, by Eduard H. Brau and Chanpen Puckahtikom. 1985.
38. Trade Policy Issues and Developments, by Shailendra J. Anjaria, Naheed Kirmani, and Arne B. Petersen. 1985.
39. A Case of Successful Adjustment: Korea’s Experience During 1980–84, by Bijan B. Aghevli and Jorge Marquez-Ruarte. 1985.
40. Recent Developments in External Debt Restructuring, by K. Burke Dillon, C. Maxwell Watson, G. Russell Kincaid, and Chanpen Puckahtikom. 1985.
41. Fund-Supported Adjustment Programs and Economic Growth, by Mohsin S. Khan and Malcolm D. Knight. 1985.
42. Global Effects of Fund-Supported Adjustment Programs, by Morris Goldstein. 1986.
43. International Capital Markets: Developments and Prospects, by Maxwell Watson, Donald Mathieson, Russell Kincaid, and Eliot Kalter. 1986.
44. A Review of the Fiscal Impulse Measure, by Peter S. Heller, Richard D. Haas, and Ahsan H. Mansur. 1986.
45. Switzerland’s Role as an International Financial Center, by Benedicte Vibe Christensen. 1986.
46. Fund-Supported Programs, Fiscal Policy, and Income Distribution: A Study by the Fiscal Affairs Department of the International Monetary Fund. 1986.
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