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Optimal Factor Income Taxation in the Presence of Unemployment

  • Koskela, Erkki
  • Schob, Ronnie

According to conventional wisdom internationally mobile capital should not be taxed or should be taxed at a lower rate than labour. An important underlying assumption behind this view is that there are no market imperfections, in particular that labour markets clear competitively. At least for Europe, which has been suffering from high unemployment for a long time, this assumption does not seem appropriate. This paper studies the optimal factor taxation in the presence of unemployment which results from the union-firm wage bargaining both with optimal and restricted profit taxation when capital is internationally mobile and labour immobile. In setting tax rates the government is assumed to behave as a Stackelberg leader towards the private sector playing a Nash game. The main conclusion is that in the presence of unemployment, the conventional wisdom turns on its head; capital should generally be taxed at a higher rate than labour. Copyright 2002 by Blackwell Publishing Inc.

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Article provided by Association for Public Economic Theory in its journal Journal of Public Economic Theory.

Volume (Year): 4 (2002)
Issue (Month): 3 ()
Pages: 387-404

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Handle: RePEc:bla:jpbect:v:4:y:2002:i:3:p:387-404
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  10. Michael Keen & Hannu Piekkola, 1996. "Simple rules for the optimal taxation of international capital income," IFS Working Papers W96/18, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  11. Erkki Koskela & Ronnie Schöb, . "Why Governments Should Tax Mobile Capital in the Presence of Unemployment," EPRU Working Paper Series 98-08, Economic Policy Research Unit (EPRU), University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
  12. Bruce, N., 1991. "A Note on the Taxation of International Capital Income Flows," Discussion Papers in Economics at the University of Washington 91-10a, Department of Economics at the University of Washington.
  13. Stefan Boeters & Kerstin Schneider, 1999. "Government versus Union. The Structure of Optimal Taxation in a Unionized Labor Market," FinanzArchiv: Public Finance Analysis, Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 56(2), pages 174-, June.
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  23. Koskela, Erkki & Schöb, Ronnie, 2001. "Optimal Factor Income Taxation in the Presence of Unemployment," Discussion Papers 758, The Research Institute of the Finnish Economy.
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