Category Archives: Reviews

Review: James Alm (ed.), The Economics of Taxation

The title of the series to which these volumes belong contains an important ambiguity. A critique is a careful examination of a subject, so a critical writing is a careful study of the subject under review; but in common parlance ‘critical’ also means ‘significant’. (We might say that the title of the series contains a critical ambiguity.) It is in this double sense that the writings contained in these volumes are ‘critical’. They are careful studies of aspects of taxation, and they are also significant, in relation to the study of taxation, in relation to the social policy field as a whole, and because they have been seminal in their field.

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Review: Emilio Albi and Jorge Martinez-Vazquez (eds), The Elgar Guide to Tax Systems

The editors’ introduction to this volume of thoroughly researched conference papers shows just how much has changed in OECD tax systems during the past few decades: flatter income tax rates, ubiquitous VAT, the almost complete disappearance of wealth taxes, a substantial reduction in excise duties, and much more. The separate chapters discuss the reasons for these changes, and also such fields as corporate taxes, environmental taxes, decentralized taxation, tax administration, and the relationships between tax policy, politics, and research.

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Review: Two Memoirs Tell the History of the Alaska Dividend

Alaska’s Permanent Fund Dividend is closer to a Basic Income than almost any other policy in the world today. The lessons of how it was created and how it became so popular and successful are extremely important to the Basic Income movement. Two autobiographies available now tell different parts of the story of the Alaska Dividend. One is by Jay

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Review: Vladimir Rys, Reinventing Social Security Worldwide

This book is the fruit of a lifetime of academic research and administrative experience in international social security policy. Rys worked for thirty years for the International Social Security Association (ISSA) and for half of that time as its General Secretary, and there can be few people with such a broad geographical and historical overview of the evolution of social security (here understood as financial benefits and also state insurance-funded health provision) and of the challenges facing it.

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Review: Ruth Lister, Understanding Theories and Concepts in Social Policy

Not only is this a most useful textbook, but it is also a sustained argument for the usefulness of theory. The back cover says that the book is for students and their teachers, but because it constantly draws connections between social science theory and practical social policy it will also be read with profit by social policy practitioners.

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Review: Bernd Marin and Eszter Zólyomi (eds), Women's Work and Pensions: What is Good, What is Best?

The chapters of this book started life at a conference organised by the European Centre in Vienna, and it is therefore unsurprising that they contain more about Austria than about any other individual country; but there is still plenty of diversity, and the single country and comparative studies of recent changes in pensions provision contain material on a variety of European countries, including the UK.

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