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Optimal Taxation of Human Capital and theEarnings Function

  • Bas Jacobs
  • Lans Bovenberg

This paper explores how the specification of the earnings function impacts the optimal tax treatment of human capital. If education is complementary to labor effort, education should be subsidized to offset tax distortions on labor supply. However, if most of the education is enjoyed by high ability households, education should be taxed in order to redistribute resources to the poor. The paper identifies the exact conditions under which these two effects cancel and education should be neither taxed nor subsidized. In particular, with non-linear tax instruments, education should be weakly separable from labor and ability in the earnings function. With linear taxes, education should also feature a constant elasticity in a weakly separable earnings function.

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File URL: http://www.cesifo-group.de/portal/page/portal/DocBase_Content/WP/WP-CESifo_Working_Papers/wp-cesifo-2008/wp-cesifo-2008-03/cesifo1_wp2250.pdf
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Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 2250.

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Date of creation: 2008
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_2250
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  1. Kotlikoff, Laurence J & Summers, Lawrence H, 1979. "Tax Incidence in a Life Cycle Model with Variable Labor Supply," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 93(4), pages 705-18, November.
  2. Charles Blackorby & Daniel Primont & R. Russell, 2007. "The Morishima gross elasticity of substitution," Journal of Productivity Analysis, Springer, vol. 28(3), pages 203-208, December.
  3. Richter, Wolfram F., 2006. "Taxing Human Capital Efficiently: The Double Dividend of Taxing Non-Qualified Labour More Heavily Than Qualified Labour," IZA Discussion Papers 2328, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Borys Grochulski & Tomasz Piskorski, 2007. "Risky human capital and deferred capital income taxation," Working Paper 06-13, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.
  5. Paolo Bertoletti, 2005. "Elasticities of Substitution and Complementarity: A Synthesis," Journal of Productivity Analysis, Springer, vol. 24(2), pages 183-196, October.
  6. Samuelson, Paul A, 1974. "Complementarity-An Essay on the 40th Anniversary of the Hicks-Allen Revolution in Demand Theory," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 12(4), pages 1255-89, December.
  7. Bovenberg, A Lans & Jacobs, Bas, 2005. "Human Capital and Optimal Positive Taxation of Capital Income," CEPR Discussion Papers 5047, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  8. Blundell, Richard & Macurdy, Thomas, 1999. "Labor supply: A review of alternative approaches," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 27, pages 1559-1695 Elsevier.
  9. Diamond, Peter A & Mirrlees, James A, 1971. "Optimal Taxation and Public Production: I--Production Efficiency," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 61(1), pages 8-27, March.
  10. Brett, Craig & Weymark, John A., 2003. "Financing education using optimal redistributive taxation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(11), pages 2549-2569, October.
  11. repec:dgr:uvatin:2004101 is not listed on IDEAS
  12. Marek Kapicka & Radim Bohacek, 2007. "Optimal Human Capital Policies," 2007 Meeting Papers 464, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  13. Card, David, 1999. "The causal effect of education on earnings," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 30, pages 1801-1863 Elsevier.
  14. Hendricks, Lutz, 1999. "Taxation and long-run growth1," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(2), pages 411-434, April.
  15. Ulph, David, 1977. "On the optimal distribution of income and educational expenditure," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 8(3), pages 341-356, December.
  16. Eaton, Jonathan & Rosen, Harvey S, 1980. "Taxation, Human Capital, and Uncertainty," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 70(4), pages 705-15, September.
  17. Tomer Blumkin & Efraim Sadka, 2008. "A case for taxing education," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 15(2), pages 145-163, April.
  18. Seade, J. K., 1977. "On the shape of optimal tax schedules," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 7(2), pages 203-235, April.
  19. Mirrlees, James A, 1971. "An Exploration in the Theory of Optimum Income Taxation," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 38(114), pages 175-208, April.
  20. Jones, Larry E & Manuelli, Rodolfo E & Rossi, Peter E, 1993. "Optimal Taxation in Models of Endogenous Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(3), pages 485-517, June.
  21. repec:dgr:uvatin:2005035 is not listed on IDEAS
  22. Hicks, John, 1970. "Elasticity of Substitution Again: Substitutes and Complements," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 22(3), pages 289-96, November.
  23. 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.
  24. Jones, Larry E. & Manuelli, Rodolfo E. & Rossi, Peter E., 1997. "On the Optimal Taxation of Capital Income," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 73(1), pages 93-117, March.
  25. da Costa, Carlos E. & Maestri, Lucas J., 2007. "The risk properties of human capital and the design of government policies," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 51(3), pages 695-713, April.
  26. Bas Jacobs, 2005. "Optimal Income Taxation with Endogenous Human Capital," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 7(2), pages 295-315, 05.
  27. Judd, Kenneth L., 1999. "Optimal taxation and spending in general competitive growth models," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 71(1), pages 1-26, January.
  28. Bas Jacobs, 2007. "Optimal Redistributive Tax and Education Policies in General Equilibrium," CESifo Working Paper Series 2162, CESifo Group Munich.
  29. Bas Jacobs & A. Lans Bovenberg, 2005. "Human Capital and Optimal Positive Taxation of Capital Income," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 05-035/3, Tinbergen Institute.
  30. Hare, P G & Ulph, D T, 1979. "On Education and Distribution," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(5), pages S193-212, October.
  31. Nielsen, Soren Bo & Sorensen, Peter Birch, 1997. "On the optimality of the Nordic system of dual income taxation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(3), pages 311-329, February.
  32. Atkinson, A. B. & Stiglitz, J. E., 1976. "The design of tax structure: Direct versus indirect taxation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(1-2), pages 55-75.
  33. Peter Broer, 2004. "The Elasticities of Complementarity and Substitution," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 04-101/1, Tinbergen Institute.
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