Inter-Nation Equity: The Development of an Important but Underappreciated International Tax Value

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date



International Tax, Equity, Inter-Nation Equity, Musgrave, International Income, Tax Treaties


Modern high-income states have relied on income taxes and redistributive spending to reduce inequality nationally; yet few states have considered how their national tax systems might have important implications for international income flows between high-income and low-income states and how their tax treaties might be used as a mechanism for achieving a fairer distribution of income internationally. Discussions about the possibilities of tax systems as a means of distributing income globally, and of acting in the service of the reduction of global inequality, are nascent, but not new. The foundational, and still leading, contribution to this area of scholarship is Peggy and Richard Musgrave's 1972 essay, 'Inter-Nation Equity'.

This contribution to the conference in honor of Richard Musgrave focuses on that 1972 essay, and the work that has built on it. Part 2 reviews the 1972 essay in some detail, highlighting the Musgraves' arguments and insights into the idea of inter-nation equity. Part 3 details Peggy Musgrave's subsequent contributions to our understanding of inter-nation equity. Part 4 turns to a consideration of some of the articles that have borrowed from and built on the Musgraves' work, and Part 5 offers a description of the state of our understanding about the content of inter-nation equity and provides some reflections on the increased importance of the concept.