I am delighted to announce a new CGD partnership with CGD non-resident fellow Nora Lustig’s brainchild called the Commitment to Equity (CEQ) project. Launched as a joint initiative of the Inter-American Dialogue and Tulane University in 2008, the CEQ consists of a network of economists who are undertaking detailed, data-rich analyses of the impact of taxation and social spending on inequality and poverty in more than 20 countries around the world, including Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, South Africa and the United States. CEQ analyses provide the information that governments, multilateral institutions, and civil society need to quantify the fiscal impact of tax and transfers systems on different income groups in the population—crucial information in their efforts to build more equitable societies.
Studies by Nora and her CEQ colleagues show that analyzing taxes and transfers jointly is necessary to understand who pays and who benefits from different tax and transfer systems. One startling finding: in many countries it is not just the middle class and the rich who pay more in taxes than they receive in cash, pension and other social insurance transfers; a group that can be legitimately called the ”new poor” or strugglers are also net contributors government finances.
The CEQ works in partnership with research institutions and the Inter-American Development Bank, the World Bank, and the International Fund for Agricultural Development, and is currently undertaking studies in Ghana and Tanzania with the support of the Gates Foundation. CGD’s role as a partner will be to share the global reach of our communications platform, for example, through this new Commitment to Equity sub-topic within our Inequality topic, where we will post links to CEQ studies as they become available, the CEQ papers that are jointly published with CGD, and occasional blog posts on these issues.
Intrigued? If you will be in Washington, please join us on May 15 when Nora will present a seminar on Consumption Taxes, Inequality and the Poor. I’ll be the discussant and I’m especially interested to dig into this new CEQ/CGD working paper that examines the impact on poverty and inequality, in Brazil and the US, of direct cash and food transfers, targeted housing and heating subsidies, public spending on education and health, and personal income, payroll, corporate income, property, and tax expenditures. Hope to see you there!