Thursday, September 29, 2022
Alex Raskolnikov (Columbia) presents Should Only the Richest Pay More? at Columbia today as part of its Faculty Workshop:
This paper challenges the leading academic, political, and cultural narrative supporting greater redistribution. The narrative holds that redistribution should come at the expense of a very restricted group of the highest earners: the one percent, the super-rich, the billionaire class. I argue that many reasons offered in support of this view also call for redistribution from a much broader group that includes the affluent—those with incomes in the ninetieth to ninety ninth percentiles of the distribution. Whether one looks at the recent trends in income concentration, wealth concentration, social mobility, economic growth, political polarization, or the rise of populism, the affluent are as great—and sometimes greater—contributors to these problems as those in the top one percent. Remarkably, contemporary legal and economic scholarship has ignored the affluent almost completely, greatly limiting the magnitude of possible economic transfers as well the forms that these transfers may take.
This paper reveals the analytical weakness of the prevailing narrow view. If the richest should pay more in taxes, the affluent should as well.