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Unequal wages for equal utilities

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  • CREMER, Helmuth
  • PESTIEAU, Pierre
  • RACIONERO, Mario

Abstract

When educational policy is supplemented by a redistributive income tax, and when individualsdiffer in their ability to benefit from education, the optimal policy is typically rather regressive.Resources are concentrated on the most able individuals in order to get a "cake" as big aspossible to share among individuals through income taxation. In this paper we put forwardanother reason to push for regressive education. It is not linked to heterogeneity in innate ability to benefit from education but to pervasive non-convexities that arise in the optimal income tax problem when individual productivities are endogenous. For simplicity we assume a lineareducation technology and a given total education budget. To give the equal wage outcome thebest chance to emerge, we also assume that individuals have identical learning abilities.Nevertheless, it turns out that in the first-best wage inequality is always preferable to wageequality. Even more surprisingly, this conclusion remains valid in the second-best (unless adhoc restriction on the feasible degree of a wage differentiation are imposed). This is in spite ofthe fact that wage equalization would eliminate any need for distortionary income taxation.
(This abstract was borrowed from another version of this item.)
(This abstract was borrowed from another version of this item.)

Suggested Citation

  • CREMER, Helmuth & PESTIEAU, Pierre & RACIONERO, Mario, 2011. "Unequal wages for equal utilities," CORE Discussion Papers RP 2369, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  • Handle: RePEc:cor:louvrp:2369 Note: In : International Tax and Public Finance, 18(4), 383-398, 2011
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    File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10797-011-9163-2
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Battaglini, Marco & Coate, Stephen, 2008. "Pareto efficient income taxation with stochastic abilities," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, pages 844-868.
    2. Ulph, David, 1977. "On the optimal distribution of income and educational expenditure," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 8(3), pages 341-356, December.
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    12. Darío Maldonado, 2008. "Education policies and optimal taxation," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 15(2), pages 131-143, April.
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    14. James M. Poterba, 1996. "Government Intervention in the Markets for Education and Health Care: How and Why?," NBER Chapters,in: Individual and Social Responsibility: Child Care, Education, Medical Care, and Long-Term Care in America, pages 277-308 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:

    1. Bastani, Spencer & Blumkin, Tomer & Micheletto, Luca, 2015. "Optimal wage redistribution in the presence of adverse selection in the labor market," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 131(C), pages 41-57.
    2. Efthymios Athanasiou, 2012. "Endogenous productivity and equality of opportunity," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 39(1), pages 59-89, June.
    3. Helmuth Cremer & Philippe Donder & Pierre Pestieau, 2010. "Education and social mobility," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 17(4), pages 357-377, August.
    4. Helmuth Cremer & Pierre Pestieau & Kerstin Roeder, 2015. "United but (un)equal: human capital, probability of divorce, and the marriage contract," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, pages 195-217.
    5. Leung, Tin Cheuk & Yazici, Hakki, 2011. "On the Optimal Skill Distribution in a Mirrleesian Economy," MPRA Paper 32596, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H20 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - General
    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement

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