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The Optimal Taxation of Height: A Case Study of Utilitarian Income Redistribution

N. Gregory Mankiw () and Matthew Weinzierl ()

No 14976, NBER Working Papers from National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc

Abstract: Should the income tax include a credit for short taxpayers and a surcharge for tall ones? The standard Utilitarian framework for tax analysis answers this question in the affirmative. Moreover, a plausible parameterization using data on height and wages implies a substantial height tax: a tall person earning $50,000 should pay $4,500 more in tax than a short person. One interpretation is that personal attributes correlated with wages should be considered more widely for determining taxes. Alternatively, if policies such as a height tax are rejected, then the standard Utilitarian framework must fail to capture intuitive notions of distributive justice.

JEL-codes: H2 H21 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-pub
Date: 2009-05
Note: ME PE
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Published as N. Gregory Mankiw & Matthew Weinzierl, 2010. "The Optimal Taxation of Height: A Case Study of Utilitarian Income Redistribution," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 2(1), pages 155-76, February.

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