Friday, November 13, 2009
Following up on Wednesday's post, 100+% Implicit Marginal Tax Rates Will Create Permanent Democratic Majority: Greg Mankiw (Harvard) blogs The Poverty Trap:
Chapter 20 of my favorite textbook has a section on antipoverty programs and work incentives. One basic point is that when multiple income-based programs are piled on top on one another, the implicit marginal tax rate can reach or even exceed 100 percent.
The chart above (source, via Kling) illustrates this phenomenon. It shows income after taxes and transfers as a function of earned income. Notice that as earned income rises from about $15,000 to $30,000, income after taxes and transfers is roughly flat. Indeed, it could even fall. The bottom line: If you are poor, the government is inadvertently ensuring that you have little incentive to try to improve your condition.