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History-Dependent Individual Behavior, Polarization, and Pareto-Improving Activating Welfare

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  • Peter Funk

Abstract

This paper assumes that human capital not only generates market incomes but is a direct source of utility as well. In an otherwise standard framework it is shown that the interaction between human capital and effort in raising human capital and in generating utility naturally leads to history-dependent optimal individual behavior. Depending on the initial distribution of skills, this history-dependence divides each group of otherwise identical households into two perpetually separated groups: one rich and educated, the other poor and uneducated. If the rich have a common interest in the education of the poor (for instance financing public goods), such polarized equilibria are typically Pareto-inefficient. While unconditional transfers only reduce the incentives of the uneducated to accumulate skills, it is shown that there exist activating tax-transfer systems that Pareto-dominate any non-redistributing tax-system and involve a negative marginal income tax on household income below a certain threshold.

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Paper provided by University of Cologne, Department of Economics in its series Working Paper Series in Economics with number 43.

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Date of creation: 22 Jul 2009
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Handle: RePEc:kls:series:0043

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  1. Michael, Robert T, 1973. "Education in Nonmarket Production," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(2), pages 306-27, Part I, M.
  2. Sen, Amartya, 1997. "Editorial: Human capital and human capability," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 25(12), pages 1959-1961, December.
  3. Wirl, Franz & Feichtinger, Gustav, 2005. "History dependence in concave economies," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 57(4), pages 390-407, August.
  4. Paul Beaudry & Charles Blackorby, 1998. "Taxes and Employment Subsidies in Optimal Redistribution Programs," NBER Working Papers 6355, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Been-Lon Chen, 2007. "Multiple BGPs in a Growth Model with Habit Persistence," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 39(1), pages 25-48, 02.
  6. Guy Laroque, 2005. "Income Maintenance and Labor Force Participation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 73(2), pages 341-376, 03.
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