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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. Costa, Carlos Eugênio da & Maestri, Lucas Jóver, 2004. "The risk-properties of human capital and the design of government policies," Economics Working Papers (Ensaios Economicos da EPGE) 554, FGV/EPGE Escola Brasileira de Economia e Finanças, Getulio Vargas Foundation (Brazil).
  2. 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.
  3. Anderberg, Dan, 2009. "Optimal policy and the risk properties of human capital reconsidered," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(9-10), pages 1017-1026, October.
  4. Sinn, Hans-Werner, 1996. "Social Insurance, Incentives and Risk Taking," Munich Reprints in Economics 19834, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Hartog,Joop & Maassen van den Brink,Henriëtte (ed.), 2007. "Human Capital," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521873161, April.
  8. Bovenberg, A Lans & Jacobs, Bas, 2001. "Redistribution and Education Subsidies are Siamese Twins," CEPR Discussion Papers 3099, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  9. Bas Jacobs & A. Lans Bovenberg, 2005. "Human Capital and Optimal Positive Taxation of Capital Income," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 05-035/3, Tinbergen Institute.
  10. von Weizsäcker, Robert K & Wigger, Berthold, 1998. "Risk, Resources and Education," CEPR Discussion Papers 1808, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  11. Eaton, Jonathan & Rosen, Harvey S., 1980. "Labor supply, uncertainty, and efficient taxation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(3), pages 365-374, December.
  12. Ignacio Palacios-Huerta, 2001. "An Empirical Analysis of the Risk Properties of Human Capital Returns," Working Papers 2001-10, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  13. Bas Jacobs, 2005. "Optimal Income Taxation with Endogenous Human Capital," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 7(2), pages 295-315, 05.
  14. Christian Belzil & Jörgen Hansen, 2004. "Earnings Dispersion, Risk Aversion and Education," Working Papers 0406, Groupe d'Analyse et de Théorie Economique (GATE), Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS), Université Lyon 2, Ecole Normale Supérieure.
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  17. Kaplow, Louis, 1994. "Taxation and Risk Taking: A General Equilibrium Perspective," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 47(4), pages 789-98, December.
  18. 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.
  19. Louis Kaplow, 1991. "Taxation and Risk Taking: A General Equilibrium Perspective," NBER Working Papers 3709, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. Bas Jacobs & A. Lans Bovenberg, 2011. "Optimal Taxation of Human Capital and the Earnings Function," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 13(6), pages 957-971, December.
  21. 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.
  22. Varian, Hal R., 1980. "Redistributive taxation as social insurance," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(1), pages 49-68, August.
  23. 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.
  24. 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.
  25. Grochulski, Borys & Piskorski, Tomasz, 2010. "Risky human capital and deferred capital income taxation," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 145(3), pages 908-943, May.
  26. 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.
  27. 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.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. C. Mendolicchio & D. Paolini & T. Pietra, 2010. "Income taxes, subsidies to education, and investments in human capital," Working Papers 701, Dipartimento Scienze Economiche, Universita' di Bologna.
  2. Anderberg, Dan, 2009. "Optimal policy and the risk properties of human capital reconsidered," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(9-10), pages 1017-1026, October.
  3. Dominik Sachs & Sebastian Findeisen, 2012. "Education and Optimal Dynamic Taxation," 2012 Meeting Papers 365, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  4. Bas Jacobs & Hongyan Yang, 2013. "Second-Best Income Taxation with Endogenous Human Capital and Borrowing Constraints," CESifo Working Paper Series 4155, CESifo Group Munich.
  5. 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.
  6. Robin Boadway & Motohiro Sato, 2011. "Optimal Income Taxation with Uncertain Earnings: A Synthesis," CESifo Working Paper Series 3654, CESifo Group Munich.
  7. 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.

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