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Reforming the Taxation of Human Capital: A Modest Proposal for Promoting Economic Growth

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  • Paul A. David

    (Stanford University & University of Oxford)

Abstract

A new scheme of personal income tax reform would eliminate the inefficiencies arising from differences in the tax treatment of investments in intangible human capital and other types of capital formation. It also would offset the exacerbation of those distortions caused by progressive taxation, without requiring abandonment of the latter principle. The proposed incremental reform of the personal income tax regime would permit full deductibility of private costs of education and training, but defer the exercise of the deduction credits. The novel instrument for achieving these objectives is an individually held, non- transferable asset: an untaxed, interest-bearing educational (expense) deduction account -- christened the “UIBEDA,” and pronounced: “we- bedda.” Under plausibly realistic assumptions about the time profile of education-associated earnings differentials, and the progressiveness of tax rate schedules, it is feasible for the Treasury adopting such a scheme to satisfy an intertemporal balanced budget constraint, while in effect acting as a financial intermediary in the market for human capital investments. The UIBEDA scheme facilitates shifting from direct educational subsidies to the use of publicly subsidized student loans, and also can be readily extended to promote selective immigration of workers who have incurred indebtedness for human capital investments abroad.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by EconWPA in its series HEW with number 0502002.

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Length: 29 pages
Date of creation: 10 Feb 2005
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwphe:0502002

Note: Type of Document - pdf; pages: 29
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  1. Judd, Kenneth L, 1998. "Taxes, Uncertainty, and Human Capital," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(2), pages 289-92, May.
  2. Carneiro, Pedro & Heckman, James J., 2003. "Human Capital Policy," IZA Discussion Papers 821, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. Steuerle, C Eugene, 1996. "How Should Government Allocate Subsidies for Human Capital?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(2), pages 353-57, May.
  4. Stephen V. Cameron & James J. Heckman, 1998. "Life Cycle Schooling and Dynamic Selection Bias: Models and Evidence for Five Cohorts of American Males," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(2), pages 262-333, April.
  5. Bassanini, Andrea & Scarpetta, Stefano, 2002. "Does human capital matter for growth in OECD countries? A pooled mean-group approach," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 74(3), pages 399-405, February.
  6. Stark, Oded & Wang, Yong, 2002. "Inducing human capital formation: migration as a substitute for subsidies," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 86(1), pages 29-46, October.
  7. Paul A David (with the assistance of John Gabriel Goddard Lopez), 2000. "Knowledge, Capabilities and Human Capital Formation in Economic Growth," Treasury Working Paper Series 01/13, New Zealand Treasury, revised 10 Apr 2001.
  8. James Davies & John Whalley, 1989. "Taxes and Capital Formation: How Important is Human Capital?," NBER Working Papers 2899, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Pedro Carneiro & James J. Heckman, 2002. "The Evidence on Credit Constraints in Post-Secondary Schooling," NBER Working Papers 9055, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. James J. Heckman, 1976. "Estimates of a Human Capital Production Function Embedded in a Life-Cycle Model of Labor Supply," NBER Chapters, in: Household Production and Consumption, pages 225-264 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Stark, Oded & Helmenstein, Christian & Prskawetz, Alexia, 1997. "A Brain Gain with a Brain Drain," Economics Series 45, Institute for Advanced Studies.
  12. Andrea Bassanini & Stefano Scarpetta & Philip Hemmings, 2001. "Economic Growth: The Role of Policies and Institutions: Panel Data. Evidence from OECD Countries," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 283, OECD Publishing.
  13. B. Douglas Bernheim & John B. Shoven, 1991. "National Saving and Economic Performance," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number bern91-2, July.
  14. Peter A. Diamond & J. A. Mirrlees, 1968. "Optimal Taxation and Public Production," Working papers 22, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  15. James Heckman & Lance Lochner & Christopher Taber, 1998. "Explaining Rising Wage Inequality: Explanations With A Dynamic General Equilibrium Model of Labor Earnings With Heterogeneous Agents," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 1(1), pages 1-58, January.
  16. Andrea Bassanini & Stefano Scarpetta, 2001. "Does Human Capital Matter for Growth in OECD Countries?: Evidence from Pooled Mean-Group Estimates," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 282, OECD Publishing.
  17. Trostel, Philip A, 1993. "The Effect of Taxation on Human Capital," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(2), pages 327-50, April.
  18. Eaton, Jonathan & Rosen, Harvey S, 1980. "Taxation, Human Capital, and Uncertainty," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 70(4), pages 705-15, September.
  19. Kaplow, Louis, 1996. "On the Divergence between "Ideal" and Conventional Income-Tax Treatment of Human Capital," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(2), pages 347-52, May.
  20. Dupor, Bill, et al, 1996. "Some Effects of Taxes on Schooling and Training," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(2), pages 340-46, May.
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Cited by:
  1. Stark, Oded & Zakharenko, Roman, 2011. "Differential migration prospects, skill formation, and welfare," University of Tuebingen Working Papers in Economics and Finance 22, University of Tuebingen, Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences.
  2. Hoyt Bleakley & Aimee Chin, 2009. "Age at Arrival, English Proficiency, and Social Assimilation Among U.S. Immigrants," CReAM Discussion Paper Series 0913, Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM), Department of Economics, University College London.
  3. James Alm & Janet Rogers, 2011. "Do State Fiscal Policies Affect State Economic Growth?," Public Finance Review, , vol. 39(4), pages 483-526, July.

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