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Nonseparable Preferences and Optimal Social Security systems


  • Narayana Kocherlakota

    () (Department of Economics, University of Minnesota)

  • Borys Grochulski


In this paper, we consider economies in which agents are privately informed about their skills, which are evolving stochastically over time. We require agents’ preferences to be weakly separable between the lifetime paths of consumption and labor. However, we allow for intertemporal nonseparabilities in preferences like habit formation. We show that such nonseparabilities imply that optimal asset income taxes are necessarily retrospective in nature. We show that under weak conditions, it is possible to implement a socially optimal allocation using a social security system in which taxes on wealth are linear, and taxes/transfers are history-dependent only at retirement. The average asset income tax in this system is zero.

Suggested Citation

  • Narayana Kocherlakota & Borys Grochulski, 2007. "Nonseparable Preferences and Optimal Social Security systems," Working Papers 2007-1, University of Minnesota, Department of Economics, revised 14 Aug 2007.
  • Handle: RePEc:min:wpaper:2007-1

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Narayana R. Kocherlakota, 2005. "Zero Expected Wealth Taxes: A Mirrlees Approach to Dynamic Optimal Taxation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 73(5), pages 1587-1621, September.
    2. Mark Huggett & Juan Carlos Parra, 2010. "How Well Does the U.S. Social Insurance System Provide Social Insurance?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 118(1), pages 76-112, February.
    3. Farhi, Emmanuel & Werning, Iván, 2008. "Optimal savings distortions with recursive preferences," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(1), pages 21-42, January.
    4. Grochulski, Borys & Piskorski, Tomasz, 2010. "Risky human capital and deferred capital income taxation," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 145(3), pages 908-943, May.
    5. Stefania Albanesi & Christopher Sleet, 2006. "Dynamic Optimal Taxation with Private Information," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 73(1), pages 1-30.
    6. Mikhail Golosov & Narayana Kocherlakota & Aleh Tsyvinski, 2003. "Optimal Indirect and Capital Taxation," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 70(3), pages 569-587.
    7. Mikhail Golosov & Aleh Tsyvinski, 2006. "Designing Optimal Disability Insurance: A Case for Asset Testing," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 114(2), pages 257-279, April.
    8. Daron Acemoglu & Kenneth Rogoff & Michael Woodford, 2009. "NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2008, Volume 23," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number acem08-1, January.
    9. Mikhail Golosov & Aleh Tsyvinski & Ivan Werning, 2007. "New Dynamic Public Finance: A User's Guide," NBER Chapters,in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2006, Volume 21, pages 317-388 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Diamond, P. A. & Mirrlees, J. A., 1978. "A model of social insurance with variable retirement," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(3), pages 295-336, December.
    11. Rogerson, William P, 1985. "Repeated Moral Hazard," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 53(1), pages 69-76, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. Koehne, Sebastian & Kuhn, Moritz, 2015. "Optimal taxation in a habit formation economy," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 122(C), pages 31-39.
    2. Marco Bassetto, 2009. "The Research Agenda: Marco Bassetto on the Quantitative Evaluation of Fiscal Policy Rules," EconomicDynamics Newsletter, Review of Economic Dynamics, vol. 10(2), April.
    3. Aspen Gorry & Ezra Oberfield, 2012. "Optimal Taxation Over the Life Cycle," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 15(4), pages 551-572, October.
    4. Philippe Choné & Guy Laroque, 2014. "Income tax and retirement schemes," Sciences Po publications 2014-06, Sciences Po.
    5. Maxim Troshkin & Aleh Tsyvinski & Mikhail Golosov, 2010. "Optimal Dynamic Taxes," 2010 Meeting Papers 320, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    6. Koehne, Sebastian & Kuhn, Moritz, 2013. "Optimal capital taxation for time-nonseparable preferences," MPRA Paper 45203, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    7. repec:eee:moneco:v:91:y:2017:i:c:p:39-51 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Luigi Balletta & Giovanni Immordino, 2013. "On Repeated Moral Hazard with a Present Biased Agent," CSEF Working Papers 341, Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance (CSEF), University of Naples, Italy.
    9. Oliver Denk & Jean-Baptiste Michau, 2013. "Optimal Social Security with Imperfect Tagging," Working Papers hal-00796521, HAL.
    10. Borys Grochulski, 2010. "On the optimality of Ramsey taxes in Mirless economies," Working Paper 10-14, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.
    11. repec:spr:sochwe:v:50:y:2018:i:3:d:10.1007_s00355-017-1094-0 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. Jean-Baptiste Michau, 2011. "Optimal Redistribution with Intensive and Extensive Labor Supply Margins: A Life-Cycle Perspective," Working Papers hal-00639121, HAL.
    13. Borys Grochulski, 2008. "Limits to redistribution and intertemporal wedges : implications of Pareto optimality with private information," Economic Quarterly, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, issue Spr, pages 173-196.
    14. Narayana R. Kocherlakota, 2010. "Introduction," Introductory Chapters,in: The New Dynamic Public Finance Princeton University Press.
    15. Grochulski, Borys & Zhang, Yuzhe, 2014. "Optimal Institutions in Economies with Private Information: Exclusive Contracts, Taxes, and Bankruptcy Law," Economic Quarterly, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, issue 4Q, pages 353-385.

    More about this item


    Nonseparable Preferences; Social Security;

    JEL classification:

    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy
    • H21 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Efficiency; Optimal Taxation


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