Fiscal Policy and Income Inequality


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Date Published 2014
Primary Author Sanjeev Gupta and Michael Keen
Other Authors Benedict Clements, Victoria Perry, David Coady, Ruud De Mooij, Stefania Fabrizio, Baoping Shang, Allan Dizioli, Luc Eyraud, Csaba Feher, Valentina Flamini, Alvar Kangur, Javier Kapsoli, Carlos Mulas-Granados, Peter Mullins, Philippe Wingender, Dora Benedek, Ryan Espiritu, and Louis Sears
Theme Housing Finance Subsidies


Fiscal policy is the primary tool for governments to affect income distribution. Rising income inequality in advanced and developing economies has coincided with growing public support for income redistribution. This comes at a time when fiscal restraint is an important priority in many advanced and developing economies. In the context of the Fund’s mandate to promote growth and stability, this paper describes: (i) recent trends in the inequality of income, wealth, and opportunity in advanced and developing economies; (ii) country experience with different fiscal instruments for redistribution; (iii) options for the reform of expenditure and tax policies to help achieve distributive objectives in an efficient manner that is consistent with fiscal sustainability; and (iv) recent evidence on how fiscal policy measures can be designed to mitigate the impact of fiscal consolidation on inequality. This paper does not advocate any particular redistributive goal or policy instrument for fiscal redistribution.

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