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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. Costa, Carlos Eugênio da & Maestri, Lucas Jóver, 2004. "The risk-properties of human capital and the design of government policies," Economics Working Papers (Ensaios Economicos da EPGE) 554, FGV/EPGE Escola Brasileira de Economia e Finanças, Getulio Vargas Foundation (Brazil).
  2. 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.
  3. Brett, Craig & Weymark, John A., 2003. "Financing education using optimal redistributive taxation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(11), pages 2549-2569, October.
  4. Blackorby, Charles & Primont, Daniel & Russell, R. Robert, 2007. "The Morishima Gross Elasticity of Substitution," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 787, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  5. repec:dgr:uvatin:2005035 is not listed on IDEAS
  6. 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).
  7. Tomer Blumkin & Efraim Sadka, 2008. "A case for taxing education," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 15(2), pages 145-163, April.
  8. Bas Jacobs & A. Bovenberg, 2010. "Human capital and optimal positive taxation of capital income," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 17(5), pages 451-478, October.
  9. Marek Kapicka & Radim Bohacek, 2007. "Optimal Human Capital Policies," 2007 Meeting Papers 464, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  10. 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.
  11. Richard Blundell & Thomas MaCurdy, 1998. "Labour supply: a review of alternative approaches," IFS Working Papers W98/18, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. Peter Broer, 2004. "The Elasticities of Complementarity and Substitution," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 04-101/1, Tinbergen Institute.
  15. 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.
  16. Paolo Bertoletti, 2005. "Elasticities of Substitution and Complementarity: A Synthesis," Journal of Productivity Analysis, Springer, vol. 24(2), pages 183-196, October.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. Bas Jacobs, 2007. "Optimal Redistributive Tax and Education Policies in General Equilibrium," CESifo Working Paper Series 2162, CESifo Group Munich.
  21. 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.
  22. repec:dgr:uvatin:2004101 is not listed on IDEAS
  23. Bas Jacobs & A. Lans Bovenberg, 2005. "Human Capital and Optimal Positive Taxation of Capital Income," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 05-035/3, Tinbergen Institute.
  24. Grochulski, Borys & Piskorski, Tomasz, 2010. "Risky human capital and deferred capital income taxation," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 145(3), pages 908-943, May.
  25. 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.
  26. Jonathan Eaton & Harvey Rosen, 1979. "Taxation, Human Capital and Uncertainty," Working Papers 497, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  27. Hicks, John, 1970. "Elasticity of Substitution Again: Substitutes and Complements," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 22(3), pages 289-96, November.
  28. Seade, J. K., 1977. "On the shape of optimal tax schedules," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 7(2), pages 203-235, April.
  29. 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.
  30. Hendricks, Lutz, 1999. "Taxation and long-run growth1," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(2), pages 411-434, April.
  31. 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.
  32. Ulph, David, 1977. "On the optimal distribution of income and educational expenditure," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 8(3), pages 341-356, December.
  33. 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.
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