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Abstract for:

Tibor Barna: The redistributive impact of taxes and social policies in the UK: 1937-2005

Howard Glennerster,  December 2006
Paper No' CASE/115: Full paper (pdf)
Tags: employment and income; income inequalities; wealth and social mobility; wealth and assets; tax, benefits and pensions; taxation and economic policy; poverty, exclusion and equalities; poverty and social exclusion; income redistribution; taxation; social benefits


Regular annual studies made by the Office of National Statistics in the UK are intended to show how far taxing household incomes and giving benefits in cash and kind to households redistributes income from rich to poor. The first attempt to do this in the UK was made by Tibor Barna for the year 1937. Subsequently his approach has been replicated and elaborated. This study reworks and compares data from various studies to see how the scale and nature of the state’s redistributive role has changed over the past seventy years. Differences in methods and data make comparisons difficult but some broad conclusions can be drawn. Some methodological issues are also discussed on the question of how to approach household equivalisation when services in kind are treated as income.