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Self-Control Problems and Conspicuous Housing Consumption:Implications for Tax Policy


  • Aronsson, Thomas

    () (Department of Economics, Umeå School of Business and Economics)

  • Mannberg, Andrea

    () (Department of Economics, Umeå School of Business and Economics)


During the latest decades, household mortgage loans have increased substantially in many countries. We develop an OLG model where housing is a positional consumption good (such that housing choices are partly driven by relative consumption concerns), and where the consumers are also characterized by a preference for immediate gratification due to quasi-hyperbolic discounting. The purpose is to examine how a paternalistic government may reach its preferred resource allocation through a mix of taxes/subsidies on capital income and housing wealth. Our results show that the optimal policy typically implies a marginal savings-subsidy, while the marginal housing wealth may either be taxed or subsidized. Upward social comparisons imply a possible scenario where the housing wealth of the young generation is subsidized and the housing wealth of the middle-aged generation is taxed at the margin.

Suggested Citation

  • Aronsson, Thomas & Mannberg, Andrea, 2013. "Self-Control Problems and Conspicuous Housing Consumption:Implications for Tax Policy," Umeå Economic Studies 856, Umeå University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:umnees:0856

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Arthur Caplan & Emilson Silva, 2011. "Impure public goods, matching grant rates and income redistribution in a federation with decentralized leadership and imperfect labor mobility," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 18(3), pages 322-336, June.
    2. Caplan, Arthur J. & Silva, Emilson C. D., 1999. "Federal Acid Rain Games," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(1), pages 25-52, July.
    3. Silva, Emilson C. D. & Caplan, Arthur J., 1997. "Transboundary Pollution Control in Federal Systems," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 34(2), pages 173-186, October.
    4. Thomas Aronsson Aronsson & Thomas Jonsson & Tomas Sjögren, 2006. "Environmental Policy and Optimal Taxation in a Decentralized Economic Federation," FinanzArchiv: Public Finance Analysis, Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 62(3), pages 437-454, September.
    5. Caplan, Arthur J. & Cornes, Richard C. & Silva, Emilson C. D., 2000. "Pure public goods and income redistribution in a federation with decentralized leadership and imperfect labor mobility," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 77(2), pages 265-284, August.
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    Cited by:

    1. Aronsson, Thomas & Mannberg, Andrea, 2015. "Relative consumption of housing: Marginal saving subsidies and income taxes as a second-best policy?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 116(C), pages 439-450.

    More about this item


    Conspicuous consumption; self-control problem; housing; optimal taxation;

    JEL classification:

    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D62 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Externalities
    • H21 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Efficiency; Optimal Taxation
    • H23 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Externalities; Redistributive Effects; Environmental Taxes and Subsidies

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