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Moral Hazard and Optimal Commodity Taxation


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  • Richard J. Arnott
  • Joseph E. Stiglitz


The central result of this paper is that when moral hazard ispresent,competitive equilibrium is almost always (constrained) inefficient. Moral hazard causes shadow prices to deviate from market prices. To remedy this market failure, the government could introduce differential commodity taxation. Moral hazard causes people to take too little care to prevent accidents. The corresponding dead-weight loss can be reduced by subsidizing (taxing) those goods the consumption of which encourages (discourages) accident avoidance.At the (constrained) optimum, the sum of the deadweight losses as-sociated with moral hazard, on the one hand, and differential commodity taxation, on the other, is minimized.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 1154.

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Date of creation: Jun 1983
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Publication status: published as Arnott, Richard J. and Joseph E. Stiglitz. "Moral Hazard and Optimal Commodity Taxation." Journal of Public Economics, Vol. 29, (1986), pp. 1-24.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:1154

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