Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Dr. James R. Alm - Chair

Second Advisor

Dr. Michael J. Rushton

Third Advisor

Dr. Mary Beth Walker

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Sally Wallace

Fifth Advisor

Dr. Jorge L. Martinez-Vazquez


This dissertation evaluates the empirical relation between the value-added tax (VAT) and the level of aggregate consumption. Furthermore, it develops a theoretical framework and an empirical analysis to study the impact of the VAT, as a form of taxing consumption, on capital accumulation, productivity growth, and overall economic growth. While recent theoretical work shows that the VAT may boost capital accumulation and growth by encouraging more savings, we find that the net impact of consumption taxes on growth and its sources is theoretically ambiguous, and depends on the interaction between utility parameters, the interest rate, and the tax structure. Moreover, we develop a theoretical model to study the tax design problem in order to rationalize the observed variation in effective VAT rates over time in our sample. This framework considers both equity and efficiency as important factors determining optimal tax structure, and we identify conditions under which taxes could be evolving or constant over time. Empirically, we use a panel of 15 European Union countries and employ the recently developed GMM dynamic panel techniques. After controlling for the potential biases associated with persistence, endogeneity, simultaneity, measurement error, omitted variables, and unobserved country-specific effects, we find that (i) the VAT exerts a negative impact on the level of aggregate consumption, (ii) the VAT affects physical capital accumulation positively, which feeds through to overall GDP growth, and (iii) productivity growth seems to be a less relevant channel for the VAT to influence economic growth.


Included in

Economics Commons