Date: Wed Oct 16 2002 - 11:54:46 EDT
The 2001 IGnobel Economics Prize Winner Every year at Harvard, an IGnobel prize awarded to a preposterous paper published by an academic. Last years' award winner in economics was the following: Joel Slemrod, of the University of Michigan Business School, and Wojciech Kopczuk, of University of British Columbia, for their conclusion that people find a way to postpone their deaths if that that would qualify them for a lower rate on the inheritance tax. [REFERENCE:"Dying to Save Taxes: Evidence from Estate Tax Returns on the Death Elasticity," National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper No. W8158, March 2001.]. Dont believe me? Check out the link <http://papers.nber.org/papers/W8158> Abstract: This paper examines data from U.S. federal tax returns to shed light on whether the timing of death is responsive to its tax consequences. We investigate the temporal pattern of deaths around the time of changes in the estate tax system periods when living longer, or dying sooner, could significantly affect estate tax liability. We find some evidence that there is a small death elasticity, although we cannot rule out that what we have uncovered is ex post doctoring of the reported date of death. However, the fact that we find that postponement, rather than acceleration, of death is more likely to occur suggests that this phenomenon is at last partly a real (albeit timing) response to taxation.
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