20110468 - Taxation, Economic Inequalities and Social Justice

The aim of the course is to is to provide students with a basic knowledge of
(a) the extent, the evolution and the main drivers of current income and wealth inequalities acknowledging both the many dimensions of inequality and the partiality of all inequality measures;
b) the main economic and ethical positions on the acceptability/unacceptability of market inequalities;
c) the role of taxation, be it on income or wealth, in curtailing market inequalities in a globalized economy.
teacher profile | teaching materials

Mutuazione: 20110468 Taxation, Economic Inequalities and Social Justice in Scienze giuridiche per le nuove tecnologie LM/SC-GIUR GRANAGLIA ELENA


Economic inequalities have entered the public debate. But, what to mean exactly by economic inequalities and how to measure them? Furthermore, assuming that not all inequalities are unacceptable, how to distinguish unacceptable from acceptable inequalities? And, with respect to these latter how to redress them? Finally, doesn’t redressing economic inequalities compromise efficiency and growth? The course aims at addressing these questions, focusing on the role of taxation.

The course is divided into 4 parts.

Part 1. The main dimensions of economic inequalities (with respect to the “what”, the “who”, the time-frame; the distinction between relative and absolute equality as well as the distinction between inequality and poverty……) and the main measures of economic inequalities.

Part 2. The main trends in the development of economic inequalities in the OECD countries and main drivers, with a focus on labour income and wealth.

Part 3: The main ethical justification of economic inequalities (we will concentrate on the libertarian, the meritocratic and the different “egalitarian” arguments that have been made) and on the implications for evaluating current inequalities.

Part 4. The role of taxation in curbing economic inequality. Complementarities and trade-off between efficiency and equity.

Core Documentation

Parts 1-2: handouts available on moodle

Part 3: Nozick: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/nozick-political/ (par.2, 3, 4); Tomasi: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1111/j.1744-540X.2012.00678.x; Roemer and Trannoy: https://pubs.aeaweb.org/doi/pdfplus/10.1257/jel.20151206; Granaglia: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0954349X19301523 (and handouts)

Part 4: Rosen Public Finance Chapters 14 (general remarks); 15, 18, 19, 21; Word Inequality Report, Chapters 7-8.

Type of delivery of the course

class lessons students' participation is encouraged

Type of evaluation

The grade in the course will derive from two sources: 1) a presentation of a case-study and 2) a 60 minutes written final exam. The weights are respectively 40% and 60 %. For those attending the course, the presentation will be a powerpoint presentation delivered in class. For the students who cannot attend class, the presentation of the case study will take the form of a 3/4 pages paper. In both cases, topic and bibliography will be selected with the Professor. A brief oral exam is optional.