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Financing Public Capital When Rents Are Back: A Macroeconomic Henry George Theorem

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By taxing rents, governments can avoid a trade-off between productivity-enhancing public investment and efficiency losses from raising funds. However, it is unclear whether the rents present in a growing economy are sufficient to finance the socially optimal investment. We prove that the social optimum can be attained if the income share from a fixed factor, such as land, exceeds the public investment requirement. We thus translate the Henry George Theorem from urban economics to neoclassical and endogenous growth settings: here, the socially optimal land rent tax rate is below 100 %. Our finding may address the underfunding of national infrastructure investments.
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Keywords: HENRY GEORGE THEOREM; INFRASTRUCTURE; LAND RENT; OPTIMAL GROWTH; PUBLIC INVESTMENT

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 September 2018

This article was made available online on 25 June 2018 as a Fast Track article with title: "Financing Public Capital When Rents Are Back: A Macroeconomic Henry George Theorem".

More about this publication?
  • As one of the world's oldest professional journals in public finance, founded in 1884, FinanzArchiv (FA) publishes original work from all fields of public economics which are of interest to an international readership, e.g. taxation, public debt, public goods, public choice, federalism, market failure, social policy, and the welfare state. Special emphasis is on high-quality theoretical and empirical papers on current policy issues.

    FA is a peer-reviewed journal commited to a prompt turnaround of submissions.

    FA is listed in the Social Science Citation Index (SSCI), in Current Contents/Social and Behavioral Sciences, in Econ Lit, in the Journal of Economic Literature, in IDEAS and RePEc and in the International Bibliography of the Social Sciences.

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