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Keywords:Inequality 

Working Paper
The Politics of Flat Taxes

We study the determination of flat tax systems using a workhorse macroeconomic model of inequality. Our first result is that, despite the multidimensional policy space, equilibrium policies are typically unique (up to a fine grid numerical approximation). The majority voting outcome features (i) zero labor income taxation, (ii) simultaneous use of capital income and consumption taxation, and (iii) generally low transfers. We discuss the role of three factors?the initial heterogeneity in sources of income, the mobility of income and wealth, and the forward-looking aspect of voting?in ...
Working Papers , Paper 14-42R

Journal Article
Why Are Some Places So Much More Unequal Than Others?

This study examines the magnitude and sources of regional wage inequality in the United States. The authors find that, as in the nation as a whole, wage inequality has increased in nearly every metropolitan area since the early 1980s, though there is significant variation among places in both the degree of wage inequality and the pace at which it has risen. The most unequal places tend to be large urban areas that have benefited from strong demand for skill and agglomeration economies, with these factors leading to particularly rapid wage growth for high-skilled workers. The least unequal ...
Economic Policy Review , Volume 25 , Issue Dec

Working Paper
Changes in the Distribution of After-Tax Wealth: Has Income Tax Policy Increased Wealth Inequality?

A substantial share of the wealth of Americans is held in tax-deferred form such as in retirement accounts or as unrealized capital gains. Most data and statistics on assets and wealth is reported on a pre-tax basis, but pre-tax values include an implicit tax liability and may not provide as accurate a measure of the financial position or material well-being of families. In this paper, we describe the distribution of tax-deferred assets in the SCF from 1989 to 2013, provide new estimates of the income tax liabilities implicit in those assets, and present new statistics on the level and ...
Finance and Economics Discussion Series , Paper 2015-58

Working Paper
Inequality in the Welfare Costs of Disinflation

We use an incomplete markets economy to quantify the distribution of welfare gains and losses of the US "Volcker" disinflation. In the long run households prefer low inflation, but disinflation requires a transition period and a redistribution from net nominal borrowers to net nominal savers. Even with perfectly flexible prices, welfare costs may be significant for households with nominal liabilities. When calibrated to match the micro and macro moments of the early 1980s high inflation environment, almost half of all borrowers (14 percent of all households) would prefer to avoid the ...
Working Papers , Paper 2020-021

Working Paper
Optimal Need-Based Financial Aid

We study the optimal design of student financial aid as a function of parental income. We derive optimal financial aid formulas in a general model. For a simple model version, we derive mild conditions on primitives under which poorer students receive more aid even without distributional concerns. We quantitatively extend this result to an empirical model of selection into college for the United States that comprises multidimensional heterogeneity, endogenous parental transfers, dropout, labor supply in college, and uncertain returns. Optimal financial aid is strongly declining in parental ...
Opportunity and Inclusive Growth Institute Working Papers , Paper 14

Working Paper
Explaining Intergenerational Mobility: The Role of Fertility and Family Transfers

Poor families have more children and transfer less resources to them. This suggests that family decisions about fertility and transfers dampen intergenerational mobility. To evaluate the quantitative importance of this mechanism, we extend the standard heterogeneous agent life cycle model with earnings risk and credit constraints to allow for endogenous fertility, family transfers, and education. The model, estimated to the US in the 2000s, implies that a counterfactual flat income-fertility profile would-through the equalization of initial conditions-increase intergenerational mobility by ...
Working Papers , Paper 2018-011

Working Paper
Revisiting Capital-Skill Complementarity, Inequality, and Labor Share

This paper revisits capital-skill complementarity and inequality, as in Krusell, Ohanian, Rios-Rull and Violante (KORV, 2000). Using their methodology, we study how well the KORV model accounts for more recent data, including the large changes in the labor's share of income that were not present in KORV. We study both labor share of gross income (as in KORV), and income net of depreciation. We also use nonfarm business sector output as an alternative measure of production to real GDP. We find strong evidence for continued capital-skill complementarity in the most recent data, and we also find ...
International Finance Discussion Papers , Paper 1319

Working Paper
Introducing the Distributional Financial Accounts of the United States

This paper describes the construction of the Distributional Financial Accounts (DFAs), a new dataset containing quarterly estimates of the distribution of U.S. household wealth since 1989, and provides the first look at the resulting data. The DFAs build on two existing Federal Reserve Board statistical products --- quarterly aggregate measures of household wealth from the Financial Accounts of the United States and triennial wealth distribution measures from the Survey of Consumer Finances --- to incorporate distributional information into a national accounting framework. The DFAs complement ...
Finance and Economics Discussion Series , Paper 2019-017

Speech
Welcoming Remarks, Book Launch: Shared Prosperity in America’s Communities

President Patrick T. Harker provides opening remarks at the book launch for Shared Prosperity in America?s Communities, a collection of essays coedited by the Philadelphia Fed?s Community Development Studies & Education Department and the University of Pennsylvania?s Penn Institute for Urban Research. He highlights the importance of engaging in research on inequality and social mobility to promote economic growth.
Speech , Paper 118

Working Paper
Inferring Inequality with Home Production

We revisit the causes, welfare consequences, and policy implications of the dispersion in households' labor market outcomes using a model with uninsurable risk, incomplete asset markets, and a home production technology. Accounting for home production amplifies welfare-based differences across households meaning that inequality is larger than we thought. Using the optimality condition that households allocate more consumption to their more productive sector, we infer that the dispersion in home productivity across households is roughly three times as large as the dispersion in their wages. ...
Working Papers , Paper 746

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