Norman Gemmell

Norman Gemmell
Victoria University of Wellington

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143
Publications
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Publications

Publications (143)
Article
Full-text available
Recent papers hypothesise that estimates of the elasticity of taxable income (ETI) for individuals may be underestimated where those individuals are taxed separately but are part of a couple. This paper investigates that issue by applying the ‘bunching at tax kinks’ approach to estimate separate ETIs for partnered and single individuals. It shows t...
Article
This article introduces several diagrams relating to relative income mobility, positional change within the distribution and poverty persistence. They are easy to produce and, at a glance, provide valuable information about income mobility and poverty dynamics, given information about the incomes of a cohort of individuals in two time periods.
Article
Full-text available
The introduction of performance-based research funding systems (PBRFS) in many countries has generated new information on their impacts. Recent research has considered whether such systems generate convergence or divergence of research quality across universities and academic disciplines. However, little attention has been given to the processes de...
Article
Decisions regarding personal income tax and transfer reforms are inevitably subject to value judgements. Hence, there is a crucial role for policy analysis in which the implications of clearly expressed values are considered. Tax models play a central role in such analyses. This paper reviews a number of tax models and illustrates their use in the...
Article
This article obtains elasticity of taxable income (ETI) estimates using data for NZ over the period, 2001–2017, and using the connection between the ETI and excess bunching at income tax thresholds. Results are reported for the top two thresholds in the tax schedule and for various taxpayer types. Adjustments to tax changes are investigated by comp...
Article
Full-text available
This paper examines the effect on the elasticity of taxable income for individuals in couples, where there is no income splitting for tax purposes but joint decisions are taken regarding taxable incomes. Two approaches are considered. First, the effects of minimising the total tax increase arising from a marginal rate increase are examined. Second,...
Article
This paper examines the potential effects on inequality and poverty of a minimum wage increase, based on a microsimulation model that captures the details of household composition and the income tax and welfare benefit system and allows for labour supply responses. Results suggest that, largely due to the composition of household incomes, a policy...
Article
Full-text available
This paper examines the direction of welfare-improving income tax reforms in the context of New Zealand, which recently reduced its top marginal income tax rate to one of the lowest in the OECD. A behavioural microsimulation model is used, in which social welfare functions are defined in terms of either money metric utility or net income. The model...
Article
Performance-based research evaluations have been adopted in several countries both to measure research quality in higher education institutions and as a basis for the allocation of funding across institutions. Much attention has been given to evaluating whether such schemes have increased the quality and quantity of research. This paper examines wh...
Article
This paper reports estimates of simple models of income dynamics, using longitudinal income data for 1994 to 2012 from New Zealand Inland Revenue. Income changes are described using a simple autoregressive stochastic process in which Galtonian regression is combined with serial correlation in the stochastic term. The parameters of the model have co...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Performance-based research quality measures have been adopted in many countries as a basis for allocating funding to universities. The question arises of whether this produces a divergence of research quality across universities and academic disciplines, or convergence whereby initially lower-quality institutions and disciplines catch-up? This pape...
Article
Over two decades ago, Jenkins and Lambert demonstrated that alternative measures of poverty could be combined using the ‘Three Is of Poverty’ (TIP) curve; the ‘three Is’ being the incidence, intensity and inequality of poverty. This paper first takes these TIP curve insights and applies them to income growth based measures of mobility, proposing a...
Article
This paper explores poverty income dynamics in the form of income mobility by the poor and poverty persistence, making use of simple diagrams. It seeks to illustrate the extent to which income mobility is pro‐poor and when mobility is associated with persistence below, or movement across, a poverty line over a specified time period. While statistic...
Article
Historical data on various measures of the economic size of the public sector in New Zealand suggest considerable short-term variability and hint at a number of possible longer-term trends. Focusing on a public expenditure measure, this paper asks how far established models of government size can ‘explain’ those changes in New Zealand since the 197...
Article
Trends in income inequality are increasingly being discussed by economists and policy makers. In New Zealand, income inequality indices increased during the late 1980s and early 1990s, with limited change thereafter. But little is known about the levels and changes of such indices over prior decades. Based on previously unexplored data from Statist...
Article
Interest rates are a key component of both user cost and effective tax rate measures of company taxation, and each is regularly used in empirical tests of tax impacts on investment. However, it is shown that when interest rates are low the two measures are not monotonically related. Using a simulated sample of observations, this feature is found to...
Article
This article considers the question of whether marginal tax rates (MTRs) in the US income tax system are on the “right” side of their respective Laffer curves. Previous attention has tended to focus specifically on the top MTR. Conceptual expressions for these “revenue-maximizing elasticities of taxable income” (ETI L), based on readily observable...
Article
This paper examines income effects in regression estimates of the elasticity of taxable income (ETI). One previous approach involves the proportional change in the average net-of-tax rate. It is shown that this specification can be derived from a direct utility function. Alternatively, income effects have been examined using the proportional change...
Article
We examine the long-run GDP impacts of changes in total government expenditure and in the shares of different spending categories for a sample of OECD countries since the 1970s, taking account of methods of financing expenditure changes and possible endogenous relationships. We provide more systematic empirical evidence than available hitherto for...
Article
This paper explores whether higher corporate tax rates reduce the speed with which small firms converge to the productivity frontier by lowering the after-tax returns to productivity-enhancing investments. Using data for 11 European countries we find evidence that their productivity catch-up is slower the higher are statutory corporate tax rates. I...
Article
This paper provides a review of the concept of user cost and its determinants. Particular attention is given to the influence of taxation. The concept of user cost relates to the rental, the rate of return to capital, that arises in a profit maximizing situation in which further investment in capital produces no additional profit. This paper sets o...
Article
The objective of the paper is to explore the saving and consumption responses of a representative household to a range of policy interventions such as changes in taxes and pension settings. To achieve this, it develops a two-period life-cycle model. The representative household maximises lifetime utility through its choice of optimal levels of cons...
Article
This paper produces regression estimates of the elasticity of taxable income in New Zealand using two new instruments applied to a substantial tax reform 'experiment'. Instrumental variable methods are required to deal with endogeneity of the tax rate and taxable income in a non-linear tax structure. However, in the New Zealand context, the 'standa...
Article
This paper explores the merits of macro- and micro-based tax rate measures within an open economy "fiscal policy and growth" model. Using annual data for 15 OECD countries we find statistically small, non-robust long-run growth effects of macro-based average tax rates on capital income and consumption, but some evidence for average labour income ta...
Article
The empirical literature on the elasticity of taxable income (ETI) sometimes questions whether estimated values are consistent with being on the revenue-increasing section of the Laffer curve, usually in the context of a single rate tax system or for top marginal rates. This paper obtains expressions for this ‘Laffer-maximum’ or revenue-maximising...
Article
The work of Feldstein (1995 and 1999) has stimulated substantial conceptual and empirical advances in economists' approaches to analysing taxpayers' behavioural responses to changes in tax rates. Meanwhile, a largely independent literature proposing and applying alternative measures of tax compliance has also developed in recent years, which has so...
Article
This paper assesses the merits of using surveys of business perceptions of growth constraints as a guide to growth-enhancing …fiscal policy reforms. Using endogenous growth models in which the government levies an income tax to provide public inputs to the production of private …firms, the paper demonstrates that business perceptions of growth cons...
Article
This paper examines the extent to which projected aggregate tax revenue changes, in association with population ageing over the next 50 years, can be expected to finance expected increases in social welfare expenditures. Projections from two separate models, dealing with social expenditures and income tax and GST revenue, are used. The results sugg...
Article
A recent review of empirical estimates of the elasticity of taxable income (ETI) concluded that ‘the US marginal top rate is far from the top of the Laffer curve’ (Saez et al, 2012, p.42). This paper provides a detailed examination of the analysis underlying this conclusion, and considers whether other tax rates in the US income tax system are on t...
Article
We examine the long-run GDP impacts of changes in total government expenditure and in the shares of different spending categories for a sample of OECD countries since the 1970s, taking account of methods of financing expenditure changes and possible endogenous relationships. We provide more systematic empirical evidence than available hitherto for...
Article
The World Bank‟s International Comparison Program (ICP) data on national price levels for tradables and non-tradables (and goods compared to services) reveals that New Zealand has relatively high prices of both tradables and non-tradables when compared to a sample of over 40 OECD-Eurostat countries (Gemmell, 2013). The present paper seeks to explai...
Article
This paper evaluates the trade-off between growth and welfare maximization from two perspectives. Firstly, it synthesizes and extends endogenous growth models with public finance to compare the growth and welfare maximizing tax rates. Secondly, it examines the distinct model outcomes in terms of the growth rates and welfare levels. This comparison...
Article
This article examines whether the efficiency gains accompanying fiscal decentralization generate higher growth in more decentralized economies, applying pooled‐mean group techniques to a panel dataset of 23 Organization for Economic Co‐operation and Development (OECD) countries, 1972–2005. We find that spending decentralization has tended to be ass...
Article
Theoretical developments, improved methodologies and more extensive data have helped generate a dramatic increase in the literature testing for the impact of government size and fiscal policy on economic growth in recent years. We review a range of the more recent evidence and examine (1) the consistency or robustness of the results; (2) how these...
Article
Firms that lie far behind the technological frontier have the most to gain from imitating the technology or management practices of others. That some firms converge relatively slowly to the productivity frontier suggests the existence of factors that cause them to underinvest in their productivity. In this paper we explore how far higher rates of c...
Article
The literature testing for aggregate impacts of taxes on long-run growth rates in the OECD has generally used tax rate measures constructed from macroeconomic aggregates such as tax revenues. These have a number of advantages but two major disadvantages: they are typically average, rather than marginal, rates, and are constructed from endogenous ta...
Article
Effective marginal tax rates can be very different from the statutory rate and vary across firms, reflecting such factors as the extent and nature of taxable deductions (losses, depreciation), asset and ownership structures, and debt/equity financing. We estimate firm-specific EMTRs and related user cost of capital (UCC) measures allowing for share...
Article
This paper examines the extent to which projected aggregate tax revenue changes, association with population ageing over the next 50 years, can be expected to finance expected increases in social welfare expenditures. Projections from two separate models, dealing with social expenditures and income tax and GST revenue, are used. The results suggest...
Article
This paper examines the age and gender dimensions of income distribution and fiscal incidence in New Zealand using Household Expenditure Survey (HES) data for 2010 and a non-behavioural micro-simulation model. Since many fiscal policies are likely to have quite different incidences across age groups and genders, and with population ageing changing...
Article
The work of Feldstein (1995, 1999) has stimulated substantial conceptual and empirical advances in economists’ approaches to analysing taxpayers’ behavioural responses to changes in tax rates. Meanwhile, a largely independent literature proposing and applying alternative measures of tax compliance has also developed in recent years, which has s...
Article
Effective marginal tax rates (EMTRs) can be very different from the statutory rate and vary across firms, reflecting such factors as the extent and nature of taxable deductions (losses, depreciation), asset and ownership structures, and debt/equity financing. We estimate firm-specific EMTRs and related user cost of capital (UCC) measures allowing f...
Article
The global economic crisis has highlighted the continuing problem of tax evasion. For tax agencies to respond, an important antecedent necessitates knowing the extent of the problem. This study is the first to comprehensively review recent research on the tax gap. Our primary contributions are two-fold. First we argue that the tax gap, as conventio...
Article
Theoretical developments, improved methodologies and more extensive data have helped generate a dramatic increase in the literature testing for the impact of government size and fiscal policy on economic growth in recent years. We review a range of the more recent evidence and examine (1) the consistency or robustness of the results; (2) how these...
Article
This paper examines estimation of the elasticity of taxable income using instrumental variable regression methods. It is argued that the ‘standard instrument’ for the net-of-tax rate − the rate that would be applicable post-reform but with unchanged income levels − is unsatisfactory in contexts where there are substantial exogenous changes in taxab...
Article
This paper shows how income changes in response to changes in marginal income tax rates (MTRs) translate into tax revenue changes for the familiar multi-step income tax function used in many countries. Previous literature has focused on the relatively straightforward case of a proportional income tax or the top MTR only. The paper examines revenue...
Article
The empirical literature on the elasticity of taxable income (ETI) sometimes questions whether estimated values are consistent with being on the revenueincreasing section of the Laffer curve, usually in the context of a single rate tax system or for top marginal rates. This paper develops conceptual expressions for this ‘Laffer-maximum’ or revenue-...
Article
Estimates of marginal tax rates (MTRs) faced by individual economic agents, and for various aggregates of taxpayers, are important for economists testing behavioural responses to changes in those tax rates. This paper reports estimates of a number of personal marginal income tax rate measures for New Zealand since 1907, focusing mainly on the aggre...
Article
This paper examines the way in which the asymmetric treatment of losses within corporate tax codes can be expected to affect behavioural responses to changes in tax rates. The paper uses the concept of an equivalent tax function, raising the same present value of tax payments as the actual function, in which the effective rate on losses in any peri...
Article
The literatures testing for aggregate short-run or long‐run growth impacts of fiscal policy use quite different methodologies. The former generally focuses on temporary fiscal ‘shocks’; the latter typically have no short‐run dynamics or assume homogeneity. We use regression methods that treat heterogeneous short‐run dynamics explicitly within a lon...
Article
Full-text available
This paper examines the elasticity of tax revenue with respect to a marginal rate change, at both the individual and aggregate level. The roles of the elasticity of taxable income (the behavioural effect on taxable income of a tax rise) and the revenue elasticity (the structural effect on revenue of a change in taxable income) are highlighted. The...
Article
This paper considers the implications of complementarity in private production and constraints on government for optimal fiscal policy. Using an endogenous growth model with public finance, it derives three central results which modify findings in the literature under standard assumptions. First, it shows that optimal public spending composition an...
Article
This paper considers behavioural responses of companies´ declared profits to changes in profit tax rates. Using microsimulation modelling based on the UK corporate tax system, it argues that the cyclical volatility of firms´ gross profits and off-setting deductions are potentially important but distinct determinants of the size of these behavioural...
Article
Full-text available
This paper considers the implications for personal income tax and Goods and Services Tax (GST) revenues of population ageing in New Zealand. It considers 'pure' ageing effects; that is, population size is held constant but its age distribution changes over the next 40 years. With age-earnings profiles having a peak in the 45-54 age range, and the e...
Article
"This article examines the redistributive effects of direct taxes and transfers in New Zealand. First, it reports summary measures of the income tax-and-transfer system using the NZ Household Economic Survey. Second, the article examines the characteristics of low-income NZ taxpayers. A decomposition by individual and household characteristics show...
Article
This paper uses an endogenous growth model with public finance to test whether alleviating the most binding constraint to growth corresponds to the optimal fiscal policy adjustment. It makes two contributions: first, it shows that this strategy is optimal if there is only one policy adjustment which alleviates the most binding constraint. When ther...
Article
Full-text available
This paper examines the joint role of the elasticity of taxable income (the effect on taxable income of a tax rise) and the revenue elasticity (the effect on revenue of a change in taxable income) in influencing the revenue effects of tax rate changes. Traditionally, the revenue elasticity has been the central concept in examining fiscal drag, or o...
Article
Modelling Corporation Tax Revenue examines the revenue growth properties of corporate income taxes and how firms respond to changes in corporation tax. It provides a companion volume to the authors' Modelling Tax Revenue Growth, which explores the revenue growth and behavioural response properties of income and consumption taxes.
Article
This paper examines behavioural responses by companies to changes in profit taxation in their home country. The elasticity of tax revenue with respect to changes in the corporation tax rate are decomposed into a variety of responses. As well as distinguising real from profit-shifting responses, it is important to separate the responses of gross pro...
Article
This paper examines the built-in flexibility properties -- as measured by the elasticity of revenue with respect to profits -- of the UK corporation tax system. Emphasis is placed on determining some of the major influences on the extent to which total corporation tax revenue changes when profits change over the economic cycle. A microsimulation mo...
Article
Full-text available
Recent aggregate tests of the impact of taxes on long-run growth rates in OECD countries remain vulnerable to two criticisms. First, they typically use ‘an aggregate average rate, or constructed marginal rate, that probably does not affect the rate that any particular economic decision maker is facing’ (Myles, 2007, p.89). Second, despite increased...
Article
The 'compensation' and 'efficiency' hypotheses propose that globalization affects both the total, and composition of, public expenditures in different ways. Under the former, economic insecurity leads to expanding public sectors and social expenditures, whereas under the efficiency hypothesis, demands for lower taxes encourage smaller public sector...
Article
Observed changes in corporation tax revenues from year to year, which include the effects of changes in tax rates, deductions and compliance, appear to be highly volatile relative to profits, the tax base. This paper examines whether the ‘built-in’ fiscal drag properties of corporation tax can be expected to display similar properties. Simple, conc...
Article
Monetary policies of the ECB and US Fed can be characterised by Taylor rules, that is both central banks seem to be setting rates by taking into account the output gap and inflation. We also set up and tested Taylor rules which incorporate money growth and the euro-dollar exchange rate, thereby improving the fit between actual and Taylor rule based...
Article
This paper examines behavioural responses by companies to changes in profit taxation in their home country. It argues that as well as distinguishing real from shifting responses for profits, it is important to separate the responses of gross profits from those for deductions (such as claims for past or current losses) where these are endogenously r...
Article
Full-text available
This paper complements research addressing policy design issues on alternative options of taxing personal income. As there is a paucity of scholarly research that addresses national tax agency management and tax administration issues we rely on published comparative studies from international agencies to outline recent trends in personal income tax...
Article
The past two decades have witnessed widespread reforms of tax structures in developing countries. This article reviews available evidence on the effects of various taxes, and hence of tax structure reform, on distribution and the poor. Taxes on exports and goods consumed especially by the poor (e.g. kerosene) are the most consistently found to be r...
Article
This paper provides estimates of individual and aggregate revenue elasticities of income and consumption taxes in the UK over the period 1989-2000. Its shows how budgetary changes, including changes to income-related deductions, have substantially affected income elasticities. The estimates of consumption tax revenue elasticities show that changes...
Article
This paper provides estimates of individual and aggregate revenue elasticities of income and consumption taxes in New Zealand, based on the 2001 tax structure and expenditure patterns. Using analytical expressions for revenue elasticities at the individual and aggregate levels, together with a simulated income distribution, values for New Zealand w...
Article
Do voters know their tax liabilities accurately or do they systematically misperceive them? Could such misperceptions influence voters' choices over alternative tax structures proposed by politicians? This paper assesses the accuracy of individuals' tax perceptions in the UK using micro-data from the British Social Attitudes Survey (1995) and tests...
Article
The past two decades have witnessed widespread attempts to reform tax structures in developing countries. As the relatively small formal sector limits the base for taxes on income, the major reform is to replace trade taxes with sales taxes. To the extent that this has involved rationalisation of taxes, reducing the level and range of tax rates, an...
Article
Full-text available
Recent evidence on the impact of fiscal policy – taxes, public expenditures and budget deficits – on long-run growth in OECD countries has adopted the Barro (1990) framework to distinguish between ‘productive’ and ‘unproductive’ expenditures, and ‘distortionary’ and ‘non-distortionary’ taxes. Using estimated long-run growth effects from these fisca...
Article
Using responses from the 1995 British Social Attitudes Survey (BSAS), this paper assesses if there is evidence of voter misperception of tax costs. We find convincing evidence of income tax (IT) and value added tax (VAT) misperceptions, with a systematic bias towards overestimation of tax burdens for VAT, contrary to predictions of the fiscal illus...
Article
This paper provides new estimates of the revenue elasticities of income and consumption taxes in the UK over the period 1989-2000. Using new analytical expressions for consumption taxes, these elasticities are estimated from information on relatively few parameters, almost all of which are readily available from published sources. Changes in consum...
Article
Analytical expressions for income tax revenue elasticities treat earnings as exogenous, so that they do not accommodate the endogenous response of labour supply to the income tax system. This paper shows how these expressions can be adapted to allow for endogenous labour supply. It identifies how far, and in what circumstances, labour supply effect...
Article
Full-text available
Purpose – This paper aims to examine the growth effects of human capital investment achieved through publicly‐provided, compulsory education, financed from income and consumption taxes. Design/methodology/approach – Constructs an endogenous growth model for developing countries, based on human capital accumulation in which education is publicly pr...
Article
Full-text available
Feder's (1982) model of dualistic growth is derived in levels, suitable for time-series analysis and (i) extended to contexts where aggregate input data are unavailable (ii) sectoral externalities and productivity differentials are generalised in a two- and three-sector (agriculture-manufacturing-services) context.
Article
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The post-war growth experience of developing countries is characterised by three main features. Firstly, enormous divergence between the best and worst performers. Secondly, low persistence in growth rates across time, and finally a general decline in the average growth rate across all countries. Our evidence suggests that these patterns in the dat...
Article
This paper derives analytical expressions for the revenue elasticity of consumption taxes and combined income-consumption tax systems, analogous to those familiar for income taxes. It provides measures of tax revenue elasticities which can readily be applied in practice. Analytical results suggest that, unlike income taxes, consumption tax revenues...
Article
This paper reviews, and synthesises within a uniform framework, a number of analytical results on the built-in flexibility of taxation. Established results for income taxes are reviewed and integrated with recent results for consumption taxes. These help to provide a better understanding of the determinants of the revenue responsiveness properties...
Article
Local tax reform in Britain in 1993 (reinstating a property tax) may have reversed some intended fiscal illusion reducing,and "accountability" improving, features of the poll tax (itself a reform introduced in 1990 with the specific aim of promoting accountability). We formalize these features within a median voter model of the demand for local pub...
Article
This paper provides new estimates of the revenue elasticity of income taxes in the UK over the period 1989-2000. It shows that changes in fiscal structure, including changes to income-related deductions, substantially a.ect these elasticities. Using new analytical expressions, estimates of consumption tax revenue elasticities for VAT and the main U...
Article
This paper assesses recent theorising and empirical evidence on the impact of fiscal policy—taxes, public expenditures and budget deficits—on long-run growth. It considers the relevance of recent advances in growth theory for low-income countries and compares the evidence for low-income countries with that for middle- and highincome (OECD) countrie...
Article
Endogenous growth models, such as Barro (1990), predict that government expenditure and taxation will have both temporary and permanent effects on growth. We test this prediction using panels of annual and period-averaged data for OECD countries during 1970–95, isolating long-run from short-run fiscal effects. Our results strongly support the endog...
Article
This paper aims to examine the growth effects of human capital investment achieved through publicly-provided, compulsory education, financed from income and consumption taxes. Note: This paper has now been published in: Creedy, J. and Gemmell, N. (2005), Publicly Financed Education in an Endogenous Growth Model, Journal of Economic Studies, 32, no....
Article
This paper provides new estimates of the revenue elasticity of income taxes in the UK over the period 1989-2000. Observed changes in these elasticities are decomposed into changes due to inflation, real income growth, changes in fiscal structure, and changes in the dispersion of incomes in the UK. Using new analytical expressions, estimates of comb...
Article
Full-text available
The small island economies of the Caribbean Basin are presently engaged in negotiations with the European Union over the successor agreement to the Lomé IV Convention which grants non-reciprocal preferential access to the European market for exports of African, Caribbean and Pacific countries. Preliminary discussions have suggested the establishmen...
Article
Does growth in the manufacturing sector of an economy spillover to agriculture, or do sectors share similar growth rates only when they share some common exogenous stimuli? The limited number of investigations of this issue, for cross-sections of countries, have found some evidence in favour of spillovers, though the methodologies used cannot readi...
Article
Is the evidence consistent with the predictions of endogenous growth models that the structure of taxation and public expenditure can affect the steady-state growth rate? Much previous research needs to be re-evaluated because it ignores the biases associated with incomplete specification of the government budget constraint. We show these biases to...
Article
This paper examines whether variables commonly used to test standard fiscal illusion arguments (that tax structure affects voters' demands for public goods) can help explain the time-series behaviour of government expenditure in the UK during 1955–1994. We modify a standard median voter model to incorporate fiscal illusion via `less visible' (indir...