International Tax and Public Finance

, Volume 25, Issue 5, pp 1252–1276 | Cite as

Is capital back? The role of land ownership and savings behavior

  • Max Franks
  • David Klenert
  • Anselm Schultes
  • Kai Lessmann
  • Ottmar Edenhofer


Wealth inequality is a major political concern in most OECD countries. Under this premise, we analyze different policy instruments in terms of their impact on wealth inequality and output. In a general equilibrium model, we disaggregate wealth in its capital and land components, and savings in their life-cycle and bequest components. Households are heterogeneous in their taste for leaving bequests. We show that governments have considerable freedom in reducing wealth inequality without sacrificing output: Land rent taxes enhance output due to a portfolio effect and reduce wealth inequality slightly. Bequest taxes have the highest potential to reduce inequality, and their effect on output is moderate. By contrast, we confirm the standard result that capital taxes reduce output strongly and show that they only have moderate redistributive effects. Furthermore, we find that using the tax proceeds for transfers to the young generations enhances output the most and further reduces wealth inequality.


Fiscal policy Wealth distribution Inequality Capital tax Bequests Land rent tax 

JEL Classification

D31 E62 H23 H24 Q24 



We would like to thank Mireille Chiroleu-Assouline, Marc Fleurbaey, Robert C. Franks, Beatriz Gaitan, Etienne Lehmann, Linus Mattauch, Christina Roolfs, Marco Runkel, Gregor Schwerhoff, and two anonymous referees, as well as seminar participants at PIK’s RD3 PhD seminar, the PRSE seminar at Universität Potsdam, the OLG days 2016 in Luxembourg, the Journées Louis-André Gérard-Varet 2017, and PET 2017 in Paris for helpful comments and fruitful discussions. Funding by the German Research Foundation (DFG) under grant proposal LE 782/2-1 ist gratefully acknowledged.

Supplementary material


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Max Franks
    • 1
  • David Klenert
    • 2
  • Anselm Schultes
    • 1
  • Kai Lessmann
    • 1
    • 2
  • Ottmar Edenhofer
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), Member of the Leibniz AssociationPotsdamGermany
  2. 2.Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate ChangeBerlinGermany
  3. 3.Berlin Institute of TechnologyBerlinGermany

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