Sevin Yeltekin: Taxation and the Redistribution of Wealth

Sevin Yeltekin: Taxation and the Redistribution of Wealth


(music) – I work on macroeconomics
and I work specifically on policy issues relating
to the macroeconomy and probably my earliest
memory of why I wanted to go into economics and
especially macroeconomics is I’m originally from Turkey. And every day, I would be sent out to buy basic things like bread and milk and the prices would change. And I always wanted to understand how come the prices change
almost every day or every week. (music) I’m very interested in
especially redistribution, how we provide services
such as retirement, health care, unemployment
benefits, education and how do we do that effectively. So one of the issues that I have worked on was to think about how to redistribute through the taxation system. (music) Taxes are a contentious issue. People don’t usually like to pay taxes and that’s completely normal,
but they are necessary because we have to pay
for roads and schools and airports and other public goods and at the same time, we do want to provide
some sort of insurance to the people who get adverse
shocks during their lifetime. They can get sick, they
can become disabled and they can be laid off and we want to think
about how to provide them with some sort of
benefit during this time, but we also understand that those can create adverse incentives. If we keep paying people
when they’re unemployed, clearly, they would not have incentives to go out and find employment. So most of my research is about
striking the right balance between providing some sort
of benefits and insurance but at the same time giving
the people the right incentives to become productive members of society. (music) Most of economics is all
about trade offs anyway. It’s about, you know, on the one hand, we have scarce resources,
on the other hand, we want to distribute
them in a particular way. We care about the people
who need them the most but at the same time, we
also wanna distribute them towards people who can use them the best. So there’s all of these tensions and economics is really all about kind of trying to resolve these tensions
to the best of our ability and think about designing a
system, a policy, a marketplace, whatever have you to be able to deliver what we want at the end of the day. (music)

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