Cutting Inheritance Taxes to Improve Health Care


I’ve decided to begin a career as a right-wing policy whore. Here’s my first effort. If you happen to run a right-wing think tank, please be kind enough to send me a few hundred thousand dollars.

In 2001 Joel Slemrod won the Ig Nobel Prize for Economics

Slemrod, Joel and Wojciech Kopczuk. 2001. “Dying to Save Taxes: Evidence from Estate Tax Returns on the Death Elasticity.” National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper No. 8158 (March).

They discovered that people postponed their death in order to minimize inheritance tax burden of those whom they left behind. Now, new evidence from Australia suggests that such consideration on the part of elderly people is not limited to materialistic Americans.

Gans, Joshua S. and Andrew Leigh. 2006. “Did the Death of Australian Inheritance Taxes Affect Deaths?” Topics in Economic Analysis & Policy, Vol. 6, Iss. 1, Article 23


We know that medical care for most people comes in the final days of their life. Now, cutting-edge economics suggests that rather than providing elderly people medical care, we can just offer reduce their inheritance tax if they just hang in another week without expensive medical care. Poor people, of course, will not require much of a bonus, but then they don’t get much medical care either.

This strategy provides several benefits. Rich people can enjoy the temporarily lower DEATH tax. Medical costs will fall. And really greedy people can look forward to immortality.


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