This book surveys recent developments in public economics by taking as a case-study the proposals for a basic income/flat tax scheme. It discusses various approaches to taxation and presents a framework for a system that would affect both personal income and the social security system, replacing the one by a flat-rate income tax and the other by a guaranteed income. This idea has generated wide interest in a number of countries, and is being actively discussed by several political parties. This book explains how these changes would benefit a wide variety of social groups, leading to a greater redistribution of income. At the same time, it also raises the question of whether a single reform can meet the very different objectives of different
supporters. The author reviews different areas of public economics in which there has been active research in recent years— namely the theory of optimum taxation, public choice theory, general equilibrium analysis of incidence, numerical tax- benefit modelling, and econometric studies of work incentives—and asks how these contribute to our understanding of this particular policy reform. He also indicates the promising directions for future research. The author does not argue for or against the basic income/flat tax proposal, but believes it should be on the agenda for any serious discussion of tax and social security reform for the twenty-first century.
Readership: Economists and
policy-makers interested in reforms in taxation and in income schemes. Faculty and students in the fields of social policy, social administration, and politics.
A. B. Atkinson, Warden, Nuffield College, Oxford
"Tony Atkinson is an expert on taxation and public economics and comes closer than anyone else today to William Beveridge in his wide and deep knowledge as well as concern for these issues ... Atkinson takes his readers through a complex argument in a lucid fashion ... There is much in this book that is technical but it is indispensable for any one interested in this question ... It is hard to do justice to this fascinating book in a short review. It is a feast as it traverses economics and philosophy and public choice. It is absorbingly written and has a rich bibliography ... valuable." - Social Policy
"Atkinson takes his readers through a complex argument in a lucid fashion ... There is much in this book that is technical but it is indispensable for any one interested in this question." - Social Policy
"This book is an important contribution to the BI literature ... One of Atkinson's principal conclusions is that much more integrated analysis is needed for substantive contributions to public policy. In fact the author's masterly review itself provides a good example of this ... those familiar with Professor Atkinson's work may recognise many of his themes, but this collection usefully integrates them. The book addresses analytical issues which all serious BI campaigners need to be aware of. Moreover it is heartening that such an eminent scholar believes that Basic Income should be on the agenda for any serious discussion of tax and social security reform for the twenty-first century." - Citizen's Income Bulletin
"This is a wonderful book that deserves a wide readership within the public finance community. Upper-division undergraduate through professional." - Choice