Working Paper

Why Might Lump-sum Transfers Not Be a Good Idea?

Abstract: We adopt an analytically tractable Aiyagari-type model to study the distinctive roles of unconditional lump-sum transfers and public debt in reducing consumption inequality due to uninsurable income risk. We show that in the absence of wealth inequality, using lump-sum transfers is not an optimal policy for reducing consumption inequality---because the Ramsey planner opts to rely solely on public debt to mitigate income risk without the need for lump-sum transfers. This result is surprising in light of the popularity of universal basic income advocated by many politicians and scholars.

Keywords: Lump-sum Transfers; Universal Basic Income; Ramsey Problem; Public Liquidity; Incomplete Markets; Heterogeneous-Agents;

JEL Classification: C61; E22; E62; H21; H30;

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Bibliographic Information

Provider: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

Part of Series: Working Papers

Publication Date: 2021-02-09

Number: 2021-002