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Essays on inheritance, small businesses and energy consumption
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Economics.
2017 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Description
Abstract [en]

Essay 1: People’s planning to evade the inheritance tax curtails its merits. However, the extent of planning remains a matter of argument. According to popular belief, it is widespread, but few estimates have been presented. This study estimates the extent of estate size under-reporting, a form of inheritance tax planning, using the repeal of the Swedish tax on spousal bequests, in 2004, and a regression discontinuity design. The results show that, on average, estate sizes were 17 percent lower, and the share of estates that completely escaped tax payments was 26 percent larger due to under-reporting. As a consequence, government revenues from the tax were only half of what they would have been without under-reporting. Moreover, preferences and means for under-reporting were not only prevalent among the wealthy, but also among those receiving relatively small inheritances. The study contributes to a growing literature on tax avoidance and evasion by estimating the extent of estate size under-reporting, its effect on government revenues and by showing that it was widespread in the population.

Abstract [en]

Essay 2: There is an ongoing debate about whether or not inheritance and estate taxes are effective in raising revenues and in contributing to a more equal society. The different views on transfer taxes are largely dependent on beliefs about whether people plan their wealth to avoid these taxes. In this paper, we follow Kopczuk (2007) and study people's planning response to the onset of terminal illness. An extension of Kopczuk’s work is that we can effectively control for responses in wealth caused by terminal illness but unrelated to tax planning. We do this by exploiting a tax reform in Sweden that removed the incentives for people to plan their estates to avoid inheritance taxation. We find some evidence of long-term terminal illness inducing responses consistent with tax planning, but that these are not widespread or efficient enough to reduce the overall tax burden in the study population. Our results, similarly to those of Kopczuk, show that people appear to postpone some decisions about their estates until shortly before death.

Abstract [en]

Essay 3: Small businesses form an essential part of all economies, making it necessary to understand the conditions under which they operate. This paper contributes to that understanding by studying how survival, income and profits of small businesses change when their owners receive inheritances. Using a difference-in-differences strategy and Swedish registry data on small businesses and estate reports, it is shown that survival rates increase with almost three percentage points when the owners receive inheritances of, on average, SEK 275,000. However, the profits of the surviving small businesses and the income of their owners do not increase, indicating that the inheritance did not increase survival by making investments possible, investments to increase profits and income, but by enabling small business owners of lower ability to subsist. The study contributes to the literature on the conditions for small businesses by providing causal evidence on the effect of increased access to capital among existing businesses. It thereby complements the rich literature on the role of capital for small business start-ups.

Abstract [en]

Essay 4: This article shows that a simple monetary incentive can dramatically reduce electric energy consumption (EEC) in the residential sector and simultaneously achieve a more desirable allocation of EEC costs. The analyses are based on data from a policy experiment conducted in 2011 and 2012 by a private housing company in about 1,800 apartments. Roughly 800 of the tenants (treatment group) were subject to a change from having unlimited EEC included in their rent to having to pay the market price for their own EEC. This change was achieved by installing EEC meters in each apartment. Tenants in the other 1,000 apartments (control group) experienced no policy change and were subject to apartment-level billing and metering during the entire study period. Using a quasiexperimental research design and daily data on EEC from 2007 to 2015, we estimate that apartment-level billing and metering permanently reduce EEC by about 25%. Moreover, we show that households reduce EEC immediately after being informed that they will be billed for EEC, the reduction is larger when the production cost is higher, and the reduction in EEC comes almost exclusively from households with very high EEC before the policy change. Finally, we show that apartment-level billing and metering are cost-effective, with a cost per reduced kilowatt hour of US$0.01, and for each invested dollar, the social value of reductions in air pollution, including CO2 emissions, is $2.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Department of Economics, Uppsala University , 2017. , p. 194
Series
Economic studies, ISSN 0283-7668 ; 168
Keywords [en]
estates, bequests, inheritance taxes, tax evasion, tax avoidace, liquidity, entrepreneurship, small business, sub-metering, environment, smart meters, energy conservation, quasi experiment
National Category
Economics
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-320724ISBN: 978-91-85519-75-0 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-320724DiVA, id: diva2:1090542
Public defence
2017-06-13, Hörsal 2, Ekonomikum, Kyrkogårdsgatan 10, Uppsala, 10:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2017-05-23 Created: 2017-04-24 Last updated: 2017-05-23

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