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Intergenerational Transfer of Human Capital and Optimal Education Policy

  • Cremer, Helmuth
  • Pestieau, Pierre

This Paper studies the design of education policies in a setting of successive generations with heterogeneous individuals (high and low earning ability). Parents’ investment in education is motivated by warm-glow altruism and determines the probability that a child has high ability. Education policies consist of a subsidy on private educational investments and possibly of public education. We show that when an income tax is available, the subsidy on education should not depend on redistributive considerations. Instead, it is determined by two terms. First, a Pigouvian term that arises because under warm-glow altruism parents’ utility does not properly account for the impact of education on future generations. The second term captures a ‘merit good’ effect, which arises when the warm-glow term is not fully included in social welfare (possibility of laundering out). The two terms are of opposite sign and the optimal subsidy may be positive or negative. Finally, we derive conditions under which public education is welfare-improving and show that total crowding out of private expenditure (for one of the types) may be desirable.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 4201.

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Date of creation: Jan 2004
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:4201
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  1. Andreoni, James, 1989. "Giving with Impure Altruism: Applications to Charity and Ricardian Equivalence," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(6), pages 1447-58, December.
  2. 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.
  3. Drazen, Allan, 1978. "Government Debt, Human Capital, and Bequests in a Life-Cycle Model," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 86(3), pages 505-16, June.
  4. Benabou, R., 1999. "Tax and Education Policy in a Heterogeneous Agent Economy: What Levels of Redistribution Maximize Growth and Efficiency?," Working Papers 99-12, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
  5. Fernandez, Raquel & Rogerson, Richard, 1996. "Income Distribution, Communities, and the Quality of Public Education," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 111(1), pages 135-64, February.
  6. Glomm, Gerhard & Ravikumar, B, 1992. "Public versus Private Investment in Human Capital Endogenous Growth and Income Inequality," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(4), pages 818-34, August.
  7. Cremer, Helmuth & Pestieau, Pierre & Rochet, Jean-Charles, 1999. "Capital Income Taxation when Inherited wealth is not Observable," IDEI Working Papers 109, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse, revised 2001.
  8. Cremer, Helmuth & Gahvari, Firouz, 1997. "In-kind transfers, self-selection and optimal tax policy," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 41(1), pages 97-114, January.
  9. Oded Galor & Joseph Zeira, 2013. "Income Distribution and Macroeconomics," Working Papers 2013-12, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  10. De Fraja, Gianni, 1998. "The Design of Optimal Education Policies," CEPR Discussion Papers 1792, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  11. Cremer, Helmuth & Gahvari, Firouz & Ladoux, Norbert, 1998. "Externalities and optimal taxation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(3), pages 343-364, December.
  12. Azariadis, Costas & Drazen, Allan, 1990. "Threshold Externalities in Economic Development," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 105(2), pages 501-26, May.
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