April 6, 2016

Income and health over lifetime

Redistribution from a Lifetime Perspective

An IFS paper says:

Most analysis of the effects of the tax and benefit system is based on snapshot information about a single cross-section of people. Such an approach gives only a partial picture because it cannot account for the fact that circumstances change over life. This paper investigates how our impression of redistribution undertaken by the tax and benefit system changes when viewed from a lifetime perspective.
We find that much of what the tax and benefit system achieves is effectively to redistribute across periods of life and, as a result, it is much less effective at reducing lifetime inequality than inequality at a snapshot.
If distribution of income over lifetimes matters as much as among individuals,  at least in UK, then we have to review certain common place views. I've said that before in this post. Now, Martin Wolf highlights the role of welfare state as a "piggy bank", not only redistributing among people, it reallocates resources among lifetime. "Income is far les unequal over lifetimes than in any given year". Health and education are contributing mostly with benefits when we are old and young respectively.
Unfortunately in our country there is a long way to go, to confirm such intuition.