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Myopia and the Effects of Social Security and Capital Taxation on Labor Supply

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  • Louis Kaplow

Abstract

Myopia is increasingly believed to be a significant determinant of behavior and also plays a central role in justifications for social security and policies toward the taxation of capital. It is important, however, to account for labor supply effects, particularly in light of the preexisting distortion due to labor income taxation. For example, might even actuarially fair social security have the highly distortionary effect of a tax on top of an existing tax (the income tax) because myopic individuals give excessive weight to present levies on earnings that finance distant future benefits? Similarly, might greater reliance on capital rather than labor income taxation be attractive because collections are in the future rather than when earnings are received? To answer these and other questions, this article analyzes the effect of such policies on labor supply in a model that explicitly incorporates myopic decision-making. Many of the results may seem counterintuitive. In most respects, even with myopia, social security has qualitatively different effects than those of a tax levied on top of an existing tax. Both social security and capital taxation may cause labor supply to rise or fall when individuals are myopic, depending on the curvature of individuals' utility as a function of consumption. Moreover, whatever is the sign of these effects under one assumption about how myopia relates to labor supply decisions, the sign is reversed under the other assumption that is considered. Additionally, some interventions have a first-order effect on labor supply from the outset but others do not, and some labor supply effects rise with the magnitude of the intervention whereas others fall.

Suggested Citation

  • Louis Kaplow, 2006. "Myopia and the Effects of Social Security and Capital Taxation on Labor Supply," NBER Working Papers 12452, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12452
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    Cited by:

    1. Cremer, Helmuth & Pestieau, Pierre, 2011. "Myopia, redistribution and pensions," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 55(2), pages 165-175, February.
    2. Torben Andersen & Joydeep Bhattacharya, 2011. "On myopia as rationale for social security," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 47(1), pages 135-158, May.
    3. Louis Kaplow, 2014. "Government Policy and Labor Supply with Myopic or Targeted Savings Decisions," NBER Chapters, in: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 29, pages 159-193, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Kerstin Roeder, 2009. "Optimal taxes and pensions in a society with myopic agents," Working Papers 2009/28, Institut d'Economia de Barcelona (IEB).
    5. Kerstin Roeder, 2014. "Optimal taxes and pensions with myopic agents," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 42(3), pages 597-618, March.
    6. Louis Kaplow, 2015. "Government Policy and Labor Supply with Myopic or Targeted Savings Decisions," Tax Policy and the Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 29(1), pages 159-193.
    7. Louis Kaplow, 2010. "Targeted Savings and Labor Supply," NBER Working Papers 15656, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Louis Kaplow, 2011. "Targeted savings and labor supply," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 18(5), pages 507-518, October.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D11 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Theory
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • H21 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Efficiency; Optimal Taxation
    • H24 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Personal Income and Other Nonbusiness Taxes and Subsidies
    • H55 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Social Security and Public Pensions
    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply

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