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Optimal Taxation of Risky Human Capital

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  • Bas Jacobs
  • Dirk Schindler
  • Hongyan Yang

Abstract

In a model with ex-ante homogenous households, earnings risk and a general earnings function, we derive the optimal linear labor tax rate and optimal linear education subsidies. The optimal income tax trades off social insurance against incentives to work and to invest in human capital. Education subsidies are not used for social insurance, but are only targeted at off-setting the distortions of the labor tax and internalizing a fiscal externality. Both optimal education subsidies and tax rates increase if labor and education are more complementary, since education subsidies indirectly lower labor tax distortions by stimulating labor supply. Optimal education subsidies (taxes) also correct non-tax distortions arising from missing insurance markets. Education subsidies internalize a positive (negative) fiscal externality if there is underinvestment (overinvestment) in education due to risk. Education policy unambiguously allows for more social insurance if education is a risky activity. However, if education hedges against labor market risk, optimal tax rates could be lower than without education subsidies.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 2529.

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Date of creation: 2009
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_2529

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Keywords: labor taxation; human capital investment; education subsidies; idiosyncratic risk; risk properties of human capital;

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References

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  1. Borys Grochulski & Tomasz Piskorski, 2007. "Risky human capital and deferred capital income taxation," Working Paper 06-13, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.
  2. Mikhail Golosov & Narayana Kocherlakota & Aleh Tsyvinski, 2003. "Optimal Indirect and Capital Taxation," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 70(3), pages 569-587, 07.
  3. Bovenberg, A.L. & Jacobs, B., 2001. "Redistribution and Education Subsidies are Siamese Twins," Discussion Paper 2001-82, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  4. Hans-Werner Sinn, 1996. "Social insurance, incentives and risk taking," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 3(3), pages 259-280, July.
  5. Feldstein, Martin S, 1972. "Distributional Equity and the Optimal Structure of Public Prices," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 62(1), pages 32-36, March.
  6. repec:dgr:uvatin:2005035 is not listed on IDEAS
  7. Bas Jacobs, 2002. "Optimal Income Taxation with Endogenous Human Capital," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 02-045/2, Tinbergen Institute.
  8. Bas Jacobs & Lans Bovenberg, 2008. "Optimal Taxation of Human Capital and theEarnings Function," CESifo Working Paper Series 2250, CESifo Group Munich.
  9. Diamond, P. A. & Mirrlees, J. A., 1978. "A model of social insurance with variable retirement," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(3), pages 295-336, December.
  10. Dan Anderberg, 2009. "Optimal Policy and the Risk-Properties of Human Capital Reconsidered," 2009 Meeting Papers 166, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  11. da Costa, Carlos E. & Maestri, Lucas J., 2007. "The risk properties of human capital and the design of government policies," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 51(3), pages 695-713, April.
  12. Belzil, Christian & Hansen, Jörgen, 2002. "Earnings Dispersion, Risk Aversion and Education," IZA Discussion Papers 513, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  13. Bas Jacobs & A. Bovenberg, 2010. "Human capital and optimal positive taxation of capital income," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 17(5), pages 451-478, October.
  14. Varian, Hal R., 1980. "Redistributive taxation as social insurance," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(1), pages 49-68, August.
  15. von Weizsäcker, Robert K & Wigger, Berthold, 1998. "Risk, Resources and Education," CEPR Discussion Papers 1808, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  16. Cremer, Helmuth & Gahvari, Firouz, 1995. "Uncertainty and optimal taxation: In defense of commodity taxes," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(2), pages 291-310, February.
  17. Louis Kaplow, 1995. "Taxation and Risk Taking: A General Equilibrium Perspective," NBER Working Papers 3709, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. Hartog,Joop & Maassen van den Brink,Henriëtte (ed.), 2007. "Human Capital," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521873161, October.
  19. Ignacio Palacios-Huerta, 2003. "An Empirical Analysis of the Risk Properties of Human Capital Returns," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(3), pages 948-964, June.
  20. Mikhail Golosov & Aleh Tsyvinski & Ivan Werning, 2007. "New Dynamic Public Finance: A User's Guide," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2006, Volume 21, pages 317-388 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  21. Kaplow, Louis, 1994. "Taxation and Risk Taking: A General Equilibrium Perspective," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 47(4), pages 789-98, December.
  22. Diamond, Peter A & Mirrlees, James A, 1986. " Payroll-Tax Financed Social Insurance with Variable Retirement," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 88(1), pages 25-50.
  23. repec:dgr:uvatin:2005036 is not listed on IDEAS
  24. Cremer, Helmuth & Gahvari, Firouz, 1995. "Uncertainty, Optimal Taxation and the Direct versus Indirect Tax Controversy," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 105(432), pages 1165-79, September.
  25. Levhari, David & Weiss, Yoram, 1974. "The Effect of Risk on the Investment in Human Capital," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 64(6), pages 950-63, December.
  26. Anderberg, Dan & Andersson, Fredrik, 2003. "Investments in human capital, wage uncertainty, and public policy," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(7-8), pages 1521-1537, August.
  27. Eaton, Jonathan & Rosen, Harvey S., 1980. "Labor supply, uncertainty, and efficient taxation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(3), pages 365-374, December.
  28. Hamilton, Jonathan H, 1987. "Optimal Wage and Income Taxation with Wage Uncertainty," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 28(2), pages 373-88, June.
  29. Gould, Eric D & Moav, Omer & Weinberg, Bruce A, 2001. " Precautionary Demand for Education, Inequality, and Technological Progress," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 6(4), pages 285-315, December.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Dan Anderberg, 2008. "Optimal Policy and the Risk Properties of Human Capital Reconsidered," CESifo Working Paper Series 2451, CESifo Group Munich.
  2. Mendolicchio, Concetta & Paolini, Dimitri & Pietra, Tito, 2011. "Income taxes, subsidies to education, and investments in human capital," IAB Discussion Paper 201107, Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung (IAB), Nürnberg [Institute for Employment Research, Nuremberg, Germany].
  3. Mendolicchio Concetta & Paolini Dimitri & Pietra Tito, 2012. "Asymmetric Information And Overeducation," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 12(1), pages 1-29, October.
  4. Sebastian Findeisen & Dominik Sachs, 2011. "Education and optimal dynamic taxation: The role of income-contingent student loans," ECON - Working Papers 040, Department of Economics - University of Zurich, revised Sep 2012.
  5. Robin Boadway & Motohiro Sato, 2011. "Optimal Income Taxation with Uncertain Earnings: A Synthesis," CESifo Working Paper Series 3654, CESifo Group Munich.
  6. Bas Jacobs & Hongyan Yang, 2013. "Second-Best Income Taxation with Endogenous Human Capital and Borrowing Constraints," CESifo Working Paper Series 4155, CESifo Group Munich.
  7. Findeisen, Sebastian & Sachs, Dominik, 2011. "Education and Optimal Dynamic Taxation," IZA Discussion Papers 6056, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

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