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Household composition and optimal commodity taxes

Do demographic variables matter?


This paper investigates conditions under which demographic variables will have no impact on commodity taxes. We allow nonlinear and nonseparable preferences, a general demographic demand procedure, and a demogrant scheme linked to the number of children. Formulae for demographic revision of tax estimates are presented in a form that can be easily applied, and the only marginal data requirement is the number of children in the household. The paper extends an earlier exercise (Ray 1988) in avoiding the need for equivalence scales, and in using a demogrant scheme that is consistent with current practice in several European countries. The study confirms the robustness of the earlier discussion to the demogrant scheme adopted.

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I acknowledge, with thanks, the comments of two anonymous referees, but retain responsibility for errors that may remain.

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Ray, R. Household composition and optimal commodity taxes. J Popul Econ 1, 213–224 (1989).

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  • European Country
  • Demographic Variable
  • Current Practice
  • Equivalence Scale
  • Data Requirement