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Optimal Non-Linear Income Tax when Highly Skilled Individuals Vote with their Feet



This paper examines how allowing individuals to emigrate to pay lower taxes changes the optimal non-linear income tax scheme in a Mirrleesian economy. Type-dependent participation constraints are borrowed from contract theory. An individual emigrates if his domestic utility is less than his utility abroad net of migration costs, utilities and costs both depending on productivity. Three social criteria are distinguished according to the agents whose welfare matters. Mobility signi.cantly alters the closed-economy results qualitatively, but also quantitatively as verified by simulations. A curse of the middle-skilled occurs in the first-best. In the second-best, the middle-skilled can support the highest average tax rates and the marginal tax rates can be negative. Moreover, preventing emigration of the highly-skilled is not necessarily optimal.

Suggested Citation

  • Laurent Simula & Alain Trannoy, 2006. "Optimal Non-Linear Income Tax when Highly Skilled Individuals Vote with their Feet," IDEP Working Papers 0610, Institut d'economie publique (IDEP), Marseille, France, revised 18 Dec 2006.
  • Handle: RePEc:iep:wpidep:0610

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Borjas, George J., 1999. "The economic analysis of immigration," Handbook of Labor Economics,in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 28, pages 1697-1760 Elsevier.
    2. Brito, Dagobert L & Oakland, William H, 1977. "Some Properties of the Optimal Income-Tax," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 18(2), pages 407-423, June.
    3. Wilson, John D., 1982. "Optimal income taxation and migration : A world welfare point of view," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(3), pages 381-397, August.
    4. Laurent Simula & Alain Trannoy, 2006. "Optimal Linear Income Tax when Agents Vote with their Feet," FinanzArchiv: Public Finance Analysis, Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 62(3), pages 393-415, September.
    5. Wilson, John D., 1982. "Optimal linear income taxation in the presence of emigration," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(3), pages 363-379, August.
    6. Parkash Chander & Louis L. Wilde, 1998. "A General Characterization of Optimal Income Tax Enforcement," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 65(1), pages 165-183.
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    Cited by:

    1. Bierbrauer, Felix & Brett, Craig & Weymark, John A., 2013. "Strategic nonlinear income tax competition with perfect labor mobility," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 82(C), pages 292-311.

    More about this item


    Optimal Taxation; Income Tax; Emigration; Participation Constraints;

    JEL classification:

    • H21 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Efficiency; Optimal Taxation
    • H31 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - Household
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • F22 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Migration

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