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Optimal Student Loans and Graduate Tax under Moral Hazard and Adverse Selection

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  • Gary-Bobo, Robert J.
  • Trannoy, Alain

Abstract

We completely characterize the set of second-best optimal "menus" of student-loan contracts in a simple economy with risky labour-market outcomes, adverse selection, moral hazard and risk aversion. The model combines structured student loans and an elementary optimal income-tax problem à la Mirrlees. This combination can be called a graduate tax. There are two categories of second-best optima: the equal treatment and the separating allocations. The equal treatment case is obtained when the social weights of student types are close to their population frequencies; the expected utilities of different types are then equalized, conditional on the event of success on the labor market. But individuals are ex ante unequal because of differing probabilities of success, and ex post unequal, because the income tax trades off incentives and insurance (redistribution). In separating optima, the talented types bear more risk than the less-talented ones; they arise only if the social weight of the talented types is sufficiently high. The second-best optimal graduate tax provides incomplete insurance because of moral hazard; it typically involves cross-subsidies; generically, it cannot be decomposed as the sum of an optimal income tax depending only on earnings, and a loan repayment, depending only on education. Therefore, optimal loan repayments must be income-contingent.

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  • Gary-Bobo, Robert J. & Trannoy, Alain, 2013. "Optimal Student Loans and Graduate Tax under Moral Hazard and Adverse Selection," CEPR Discussion Papers 9505, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:9505
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    Cited by:

    1. Lochner, Lance & Monge-Naranjo, Alexander, 2014. "Student Loans and Repayment: Theory, Evidence and Policy," Working Papers 2014-40, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, revised 12 Nov 2014.
    2. Higgins, Tim & Sinning, Mathias, 2013. "Modeling income dynamics for public policy design: An application to income contingent student loans," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 37(C), pages 273-285.
    3. Winfried Koeniger & Julien Prat, 2018. "Human Capital and Optimal Redistribution," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 27, pages 1-26, January.
    4. Findeisen, Sebastian & Sachs, Dominik, 2016. "Education and optimal dynamic taxation: The role of income-contingent student loans," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 138(C), pages 1-21.
    5. Meunier Guy & Ponssard Jean-Pierre, 2017. "Financing innovative green projects with asymmetric information and costly public funds," Working Papers 2017-55, Center for Research in Economics and Statistics.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    asymmetric information; higher education; mechanism design; optimal taxation; student loans;

    JEL classification:

    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • H21 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Efficiency; Optimal Taxation
    • I22 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Educational Finance; Financial Aid
    • I24 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Inequality

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