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Optimal Income Taxation with Spillovers from Employer Learning

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  • Ashley Cooper Craig

Abstract

I study optimal income taxation when human capital investment is imperfectly observable by employers. In my model, Bayesian employer inference about worker productivity drives a wedge between the private and social returns to human capital investment by compressing the wage distribution. The resulting positive externality from worker investment, all else being equal, calls for lower marginal tax rates. To quantify the significance of this externality for optimal taxation, I calibrate my model to match empirical moments from the United States. To inform my calibration, I provide new evidence on how the speed of employer learning about new labor market entrants varies over the worker productivity distribution. Taking into account the spillover from human capital investment introduced by employer inference reduces optimal marginal tax rates by up to 13 percentage points and produces a welfare gain equivalent to raising every worker's consumption by one percent.

Suggested Citation

  • Ashley Cooper Craig, 2018. "Optimal Income Taxation with Spillovers from Employer Learning," 2018 Papers pcr186, Job Market Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:jmp:jm2018:pcr186
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Elira Kuka & Na'ama Shenhav & Kevin Shih, 2018. "Do Human Capital Decisions Respond to the Returns to Education? Evidence from DACA," NBER Working Papers 24315, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    3. Etienne Lehmann & Laurent Simula & Alain Trannoy, 2014. "Tax me if you can! Optimal Nonlinear Income Tax Between Competing Governments," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 129(4), pages 1995-2030.
    4. Moretti, Enrico, 2004. "Estimating the social return to higher education: evidence from longitudinal and repeated cross-sectional data," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 121(1-2), pages 175-212.
    5. Sachs, Dominik & Tsyvinski, Aleh & Werquin, Nicolas, 2016. "Nonlinear Tax Incidence and Optimal Taxation in General Equilibrium," CEPR Discussion Papers 11497, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    6. Krueger, Dirk & Ludwig, Alexander, 2016. "On the optimal provision of social insurance: Progressive taxation versus education subsidies in general equilibrium," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 77(C), pages 72-98.
    7. Amanda Agan & Sonja Starr, 2016. "Ban the Box, Criminal Records, and Statistical Discrimination: A Field Experiment," Natural Field Experiments 00539, The Field Experiments Website.
    8. Marianne Bertrand & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2004. "Are Emily and Greg More Employable Than Lakisha and Jamal? A Field Experiment on Labor Market Discrimination," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(4), pages 991-1013, September.
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    10. da Costa, Carlos E. & Maestri, Lucas J., 2007. "The risk properties of human capital and the design of government policies," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 51(3), pages 695-713, April.
    11. Simula, Laurent & Trannoy, Alain, 2010. "Optimal income tax under the threat of migration by top-income earners," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(1-2), pages 163-173, February.
    12. 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.
    13. Aaron Hedlund, 2014. "Estate Taxation and Human Capital with Information Externalities," Working Papers 1415, Department of Economics, University of Missouri.
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    Cited by:

    1. Radoslaw Paluszynski & Pei Cheng Yu, "undated". "Optimal Taxation with Risky Human Capital and Retirement Savings," Discussion Papers 2019-05, School of Economics, The University of New South Wales.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D62 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Externalities
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • H2 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue
    • I2 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity

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