Eliminating the secondary earner bias. Policy lessons from the introduction of partial individual taxation in Sweden in 1971

Åsa Gunnarsson, Martin Eriksson
  • Nordic Tax Journal, July 2017, De Gruyter
  • DOI: 10.1515/ntaxj-2017-0006

Suggestions to Improve Gender Equality in the Tax System

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

What is it about?

In many European countries, the tax system rests on the family or the marriage is the unit of assessment. This approach has been questioned by feminist revenue research on the basis that the marital tax unit is a disincentive for women’s economic autonomy and their opportunity to participate in the labor market. In 1971, Sweden abolished the family as the unit of assessment in favor of individual taxation of spouses. With reference to international tax research, this article demonstrates how the Swedish experience might serve as an example for other countries.

Why is it important?

EU institutions have identified gender equality as one of the core issues to address in the tax systems of member nations. One recent example is the European Parliament resolution of 15 January 2019 on gender equality and taxation policies in the EU (2018/2095(INI)).


Dr Martin Eriksson
Umea Universitet

As this research combines a historical perspective with contemporary policy recommendations, it was a new and interesting way of approaching the economic history of the family.

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The following have contributed to this page: Åsa Gunnarsson and Dr Martin Eriksson