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Theses

Essays in Public Economics and Political Economy

Abstract : This thesis lies in the fields of Public Economics and Political Economy and is articulated around two axes. The first and second chapters focus on redistributive policies. More precisely, they present contributions to the theory of income taxation, and adopt both a normative and a political economy perspective. The third and fourth chapters are grounded in political economy and contribute to providing a better understanding of political forces guiding reforms in multi-State unions such as the European Union. They focus on the preferences of individuals who are of great importance in decision-making processes but for whom little direct evidence is available: politicians.Both my first and second chapters seek to enrich a standard framework of optimal income taxation with new considerations, which allow to account better for both institutional and social contexts. Chapter 1 accounts for links between individuals when designing a redistribution system. Indeed, up until now income taxation problems have always dealt with redistribution between individuals, or couples, as separate entities. But in a lot of contexts, individuals are actually part of networks that may include their family, friends, village or community members, and make transfers to them on a regular basis. And this should matter to the government, because these transfers flow from richer to poorer individuals, and thus represent another form of redistribution, an informal one. My research question is then: how should the existence of such informal but redistributive transfers affect the design of income taxes? Chapter 2 starts from the observation that in many countries that have well-developed tax systems, the proportion of the population who does not pay the income tax is sizeable -- a salient feature of many tax systems in developed countries. Using tools from the normative taxation literature which we apply to a political economy of tax reforms framework, we manage to study the political economy of reforms of non-linear tax systems, which helps us understand why it might be the case that such important shares of the population are exempt from the income tax. Even though both chapters are theoretical, I use administrative and survey data to illustrate and draw concrete conclusions from my models.Finally, the last two chapters of my thesis are dedicated to a project on the preferences of French and German Members of Parliament for different EU integration measures. A first wave of questionnaire-based surveys was conducted in 2016. The aim of this project is to carry out these surveys on a regular basis so as to better understand European Union dynamics and help feed current EU debates with academic insights. The third and fourth chapters thus study the opinion of Members of Parliament regarding policies which hold particular importance in light of today's and the last ten years' debates: labour market policies, and the European Monetary Union. They provide a different take on political economy questions, and inform the preferences of an important set of actors in decision-making processes: politicians, for whom apart from their public votes and statements, little evidence is available on their opinions. In these chapters we seek to disentangle which of two factors is most important in the differences observed: cultural or ideological differences? Surprisingly, we find that for a majority of questions the answers reflect more of an ideological (left/right) divide than a French/German one. For instance, the creation of a common unemployment insurance and more labor market flexibility highlight a divide that pertains much more to ideology than to nationality.  Such results may help shed light on potential directions that may be fruitful for more European integration.
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Anasuya Raj. Essays in Public Economics and Political Economy. Economics and Finance. Institut Polytechnique de Paris, 2020. English. ⟨NNT : 2020IPPAX024⟩. ⟨tel-02884826⟩

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