Evaluating the desirability of a reform typically involves weighing the gains of the winners against the losses of the losers using welfare weights. Welfare weights measure the value that society assigns to a \$1 gain in consumption to individuals. They can capture various normative ideals like utilitarianism and equality of opportunity. Which welfare weights should society use to evaluate reforms? We develop a portable method to elicit welfare weights from general population samples and validate it using two experiments. We find that the general population weights are more progressive than the weights implied by tax and transfer policies in the U.S., indicating that the general population desires additional redistribution. The general population weights are less progressive than those frequently used in the literature. We explore the implications of these weights for optimal income taxes.
Who Deserves a Tax Break and Why? Evidence on Preferences for Taxing Personal Characteristics (with Julien Senn)
Paternalism: Determinants of Demand and Supply (with Björn Bartling )