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Taxation, Incomplete Markets, and Social Security


  • Peter A. Diamond

    () (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)


In this book, Peter Diamond analyzes social security as a particular example of optimal taxation theory. Assuming a world of incomplete markets and asymmetric information, he uses a variety of simple models to illuminate the economic forces that bear on specific social security policy issues. The focus is on the degree of progressivity desirable in social security and the design of incentives to delay retirement beyond the earliest age of eligibility for benefits. Before analyzing these models, Diamond presents introductions to optimal income tax theory and the theory of incomplete markets. He incorporates recent theoretical developments such as time-inconsistent preferences into his analyses and shows that distorting taxes and a measure of progressivity in benefits are desirable. Diamond also discusses social security reform, with a focus on Germany.

Suggested Citation

  • Peter A. Diamond, 2005. "Taxation, Incomplete Markets, and Social Security," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262541823, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:mtp:titles:0262541823

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Alberto Alesina & Enrico Spolaore, 1997. "On the Number and Size of Nations," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(4), pages 1027-1056.
    2. Aghion, Philippe & Howitt, Peter, 1992. "A Model of Growth through Creative Destruction," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 60(2), pages 323-351, March.
    3. Robert J. Barro, 1991. "Economic Growth in a Cross Section of Countries," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 106(2), pages 407-443.
    4. Barro, Robert J. & Lee, Jong-Wha, 1993. "International comparisons of educational attainment," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 363-394, December.
    5. Kenneth J. Arrow, 1962. "The Economic Implications of Learning by Doing," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 29(3), pages 155-173.
    6. Alesina, Alberto & Summers, Lawrence H, 1993. "Central Bank Independence and Macroeconomic Performance: Some Comparative Evidence," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 25(2), pages 151-162, May.
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    More about this item


    social security; optimal taxation theory; progressivity;

    JEL classification:

    • H21 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Efficiency; Optimal Taxation
    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs
    • H55 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Social Security and Public Pensions


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