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Essays In Public Economics

Roantree, Barra; (2019) Essays In Public Economics. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London).

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This thesis contains four papers on public economics, exploring how the tax and transfer system shapes the outcomes and behaviour of individuals. The first paper considers how a jointly assessed system of income tax for couples - which can impose high marginal rates on second earners - affects the careers of women. It develops a rich lifecycle model, and finds that by improving the incentive to accumulate human capital, the UK's abolition of joint income taxation resulted in higher employment and changes in the timing of fertility decisions. The second paper considers how our impression of inequality and the role of the tax and transfer system changes when individuals' circumstances are measured over a longer horizon than that captured by typical household surveys. Using 18-waves of panel data from the UK, it shows inequality is lower, redistribution less extensive, and benefit receipt more widespread than if measured at a point in time. The third paper extends this horizon further, using a dynamic microsimulation approach to examine the lifetime distributional impact of reforms to the tax and transfer system. It finds that - on average - work-contingent benefits are just as effective at redistributing resources to the lifetime poor as increases to out-of-work benefits, and that progressive taxes levied on annual income are effectively targeted at the lifetime rich. The final paper exploits "kinks" and "notches" in the UK personal tax schedule over a 40-year period to investigate how taxpayers respond to income tax and social security contributions. At kinks, where the marginal rate rises, it finds bunching in the distribution of income reported to tax authorities by company owner-managers and the self-employed, but not those with only employment income. Responses to notches, where the average rate rises, provide compelling evidence that this is because most employees face substantial frictions.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Essays In Public Economics
Event: UCL (University College London)
Language: English
Keywords: public economics
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Economics
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10068524
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