The explainers at Vox tweeted this Thursday as if it were some sort of shocking revelation — breaking news, even:

“Bizarrely,” writers Charles Kenny and Justin Sandefur found that their “radical proposal to fight poverty in the developing world: tax the rich more than the poor” can actually “exacerbate poverty in the poorest countries”

It’s true:

… new data on taxation and spending in the world’s poorest countries suggests that progressive tax-and-transfer systems are far less common than you would think. In general, taxes are less progressive in those countries, financial transfers are much smaller, and the bulk of social spending is soaked up by broken health and education systems. The net effect is often that tax-and-transfer policies leave poor people worse off, not better.


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