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2013-01-18 | Peer Reviewed

Conspicuous Leisure: Optimal Income Taxation When Both Relative Consumption and Relative Leisure Matter

Thomas, Aronsson and Olof Johansson-Stenman. 2013. “Conspicuous Leisure: Optimal Income Taxation When Both Relative Consumption and Relative Leisure Matter.” The Scandinavian Journal of Economics 115:1: 155-175.
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In previous studies on public policy under relative-consumption concerns, leisure comparisons have been ignored. In this paper, we consider a two-type optimal non-linear income tax model, in which people care about both their relative consumption and their relative leisure. Increased consumption positionality typically implies higher marginal income tax rates for both ability types, whereas leisure positionality has an offsetting role. However, this offsetting role is not symmetric; concern about relative leisure implies a progressive income tax component (i.e., a component that is larger for the high-ability type than for the low-ability type). Leisure positionality does not modify the policy rule for public-good provision.