Roger Thayer Stone Center For Latin American Studies

Tulane University

Fiscal Incidence, Fiscal Mobility and the Poor- A New Approach

Working Document: Fiscal Incidence, Fiscal Mobility and the Poor- A New Approach
by Lustig, Nora and Sean Higgins
April 2012

Abstract
Taxes and transfers can have significant impacts on poverty and inequality. All standard measures are by definition anonymous in the sense that we do not know the identity of winners and losers. That a given combination of taxes and transfers makes some of the poor poorer, however, may be important information to incorporate into a fiscal incidence analysis. The directional mobility literature provides a useful framework to identify which individuals are adversely/favorably impacted by a particular policy. This paper introduces a “fiscal mobility matrix” to identify winners and losers. We show that taxes and transfers can lower inequality and poverty (including the severity of the poor) but still make a subgroup of the poor worse off. We use Brazilian data to illustrate how indirect taxes make around 11 percent of the non-poor poor, 15 percent of the moderate poor extremely poor and 4 percent of the extremely poor “ultra-poor” despite any cash transfers they receive, even when standard poverty and inequality indicators decline and overall taxes are progressive.

Fiscal Incidence, Fiscal Mobility and the Poor- A New Approach, Updated April 2012

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Every Friday from 10am-12pm CDT, The Latin American Library and Stone Center are co-hosting a virtual work-along for Latin Americanist graduate students to support each other in their research and writing goals. The Zoom meeting has two break-out options: participants may choose to troubleshoot research and methodological questions with an LAL librarian and/or work towards their writing objectives alongside a community of their peers. We hope you will join us when you can!

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This summer educator institute is the third institute in a series being offered by Tulane University, The University of Georgia and Vanderbilt University. This series of institutes is designed to enhance the presence of Central America in the K-12 classroom. Each year, participants engage with presenters, resources and other K-12 colleagues to explore diverse topics in Central America with a focus on people and the environment.

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