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Self-control Preferences and Taxation: A Quantitative Analysis in a Life-cycle Model

  • Cagri Seda Kumru


    (Research School of Economics, The Australian National University and ARC Centre of Excellence in Population Ageing Research, Australian School of Business, University of New South Wales)

  • Athanasios C. Thanopoulos

    (Council of Economic Advisers of the Government of Greece, Ministry of Finance, Greece)

This paper examines the impact of various fiscal policies, namely, taxes on consumption, labor and capital when agents have self-control preferences. Agents trade in a stochastic overlapping generations economy while facing borrowing constraints. We quantitatively show that modelling choices, such as, liquidity constraints, life-cycle structure and idiosyncratic earnings risks, that were previously considered to be critical in delivering a positive capital income tax, need not be binding in this regard. We argue and quantitatively show that for a sufficiently large measure of individuals having self-control preferences instead of CRRA preferences, or alternatively, for a sufficiently high cost of exercising self control when all individuals are self-control types, the optimal capital income tax is zero. Given there is strong empirical and experimental evidence regarding the existence of self-control problems, our model provides quite an interesting insight: as agents' self-control costs rise, the optimal capital income tax rate will converge to Chamley and Judd value.

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Paper provided by ARC Centre of Excellence in Population Ageing Research (CEPAR), Australian School of Business, University of New South Wales in its series Working Papers with number 201122.

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Length: 30 pages
Date of creation: Sep 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:asb:wpaper:201122
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  1. Juan Carlos Conesa & Sagiri Kitao & Dirk Krueger, 2007. "Taxing Capital? Not a Bad Idea After All!," NBER Working Papers 12880, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Judd, Kenneth L., 1985. "Redistributive taxation in a simple perfect foresight model," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(1), pages 59-83, October.
  3. Ayse Imrohoroglu & Selahattin Imrohoroglu & Douglas H. Joines, 2000. "Time inconsistent preferences and Social Security," Discussion Paper / Institute for Empirical Macroeconomics 136, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  4. O'Donoghue, Ted & Rabin, Matthew, 2006. "Optimal sin taxes," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(10-11), pages 1825-1849, November.
  5. Hanming Fang & Dan Silverman, 2004. "Time-inconsistency and Welfare Program Participation: Evidence from the NLSY," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1465, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  6. Finn E. Kydland & Edward C. Prescott, 1996. "The Computational Experiment: An Econometric Tool," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 10(1), pages 69-85, Winter.
  7. Imrohoroglu, S., 1997. "A Quantitative Analysis of Capital Income Taxation," Papers 1997/12, Koc University.
  8. Per Krusell & Anthony A. Smith, Jr., . "Consumption-Savings Decisions with Quasi-Geometric Discounting," GSIA Working Papers 2001-05, Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business.
  9. Chamley, Christophe, 1986. "Optimal Taxation of Capital Income in General Equilibrium with Infinite Lives," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 54(3), pages 607-22, May.
  10. Shane Frederick & George Loewenstein & Ted O'Donoghue, 2002. "Time Discounting and Time Preference: A Critical Review," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 40(2), pages 351-401, June.
  11. John Ameriks & Andrew Caplin & John Leahy & Tom Tyler, 2007. "Measuring Self-Control Problems," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(3), pages 966-972, June.
  12. Faruk Gul & Wolfgang Pesendorfer, 2004. "Self-Control and the Theory of Consumption," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 72(1), pages 119-158, 01.
  13. Gruber, Jonathan & Koszegi, Botond, 2004. "Tax incidence when individuals are time-inconsistent: the case of cigarette excise taxes," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(9-10), pages 1959-1987, August.
  14. George-Marios Angeletos, 2001. "The Hyberbolic Consumption Model: Calibration, Simulation, and Empirical Evaluation," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 15(3), pages 47-68, Summer.
  15. Mark Huggett & Gustavo Ventura, 1998. "On the Distributional Effects of Social Security Reform," Working Papers 9801, Centro de Investigacion Economica, ITAM.
  16. Per Krusell & Burhanettin Kuruşçu & Anthony A. Smith Jr., 2010. "Temptation and Taxation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 78(6), pages 2063-2084, November.
  17. Cagri S. Kumru & Athanasios C. Thanopoulos, 2010. "Social Security Reform with Self-Control Preferences," Discussion Papers 2010-11, School of Economics, The University of New South Wales.
  18. Imrohoroglu, Ayse & Imrohoroglu, Selahattin & Joines, Douglas H, 1998. "The Effect of Tax-Favored Retirement Accounts on Capital Accumulation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(4), pages 749-68, September.
  19. Kumru, Çagri S. & Thanopoulos, Athanasios C., 2008. "Social security and self control preferences," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 757-778, March.
  20. Imrohoroglu, Ayse & Imrohoroglu, Selahattin & Joines, Douglas H, 1995. "A Life Cycle Analysis of Social Security," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 6(1), pages 83-114, June.
  21. Alessandro Bucciol, 2012. "Measuring Self-Control Problems: A Structural Estimation," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 10(5), pages 1084-1115, October.
  22. Kevin X. D. Huang & Zheng Liu & Qi Zhu, 2013. "Temptation and self-control: some evidence and applications," Working Paper Series 2013-23, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  23. Luisa Fuster & Ayse Imrohoroglu & Selahattin Imrohoroglu, 2003. "A welfare analysis of social security in a dynastic framework," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 44(4), pages 1247-1274, November.
  24. DeJong, David N. & Ripoll, Marla, 2007. "Do self-control preferences help explain the puzzling behavior of asset prices?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(4), pages 1035-1050, May.
  25. repec:tpr:qjecon:v:116:y:2001:i:4:p:1261-1303 is not listed on IDEAS
  26. Ted O'Donoghue & Matthew Rabin, 2003. "Studying Optimal Paternalism, Illustrated by a Model of Sin Taxes," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(2), pages 186-191, May.
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