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Income tax, subsidies to education, and investments in human capital in a two-sector economy


  • Mendolicchio, Concetta
  • Paolini, Dimitri
  • Pietra, Tito


The paper studies a two-sector economy with investments in human and physical capital and imperfect labor markets. Workers and firms endogenously select the sector they are active in, and choose the amount of their investments. To enter the high-skill sector, workers must pay a fixed cost that we interpret as direct cost of education. The economy is characterized by two different pecuniary externalities. Given the distribution of the agents across sectors, at equilibrium, in each sector there is underinvestment in both human and physical capital, due to non-contractibility of investments. A second pecuniary externality is induced by the self-selection of the agents in the two sectors. When total factor productivities are sufficiently diverse, subsidies to labor income in the low skill sector and fixed taxes on the direct costs of education increase total surplus, while subsidies to labor income in the high skill sector can actually reduce it.

Suggested Citation

  • Mendolicchio, Concetta & Paolini, Dimitri & Pietra, Tito, 2009. "Income tax, subsidies to education, and investments in human capital in a two-sector economy," MPRA Paper 14772, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:14772

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Heckman, James J & Lochner, Lance & Taber, Christopher, 1998. "Tax Policy and Human-Capital Formation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(2), pages 293-297, May.
    2. Blankenau, William, 2005. "Public schooling, college subsidies and growth," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 29(3), pages 487-507, March.
    3. Mikael Lindahl & Alan B. Krueger, 2001. "Education for Growth: Why and for Whom?," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 39(4), pages 1101-1136, December.
    4. Sattinger, Michael, 1993. "Assignment Models of the Distribution of Earnings," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 31(2), pages 831-880, June.
    5. A. Lans Bovenberg & Bas Jacobs, 2005. "Redistribution and Education Subsidies are Siamese Twins," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 05-036/3, Tinbergen Institute.
    6. William Blankenau & Gabriele Camera, 2009. "Public Spending on Education and the Incentives for Student Achievement," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 76(303), pages 505-527, July.
    7. Angel de la Fuente & Antonio Ciccone, 2003. "Human capital in a global and knowledge-based economy," Working Papers 70, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
    8. Caucutt, Elizabeth M. & Kumar, Krishna B., 2003. "Higher education subsidies and heterogeneity: a dynamic analysis," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 27(8), pages 1459-1502, June.
    9. Bas Jacobs & A. Lans Bovenberg, 2011. "Optimal Taxation of Human Capital and the Earnings Function," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 13(6), pages 957-971, December.
    10. Bas Jacobs, 2005. "Optimal Income Taxation with Endogenous Human Capital," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 7(2), pages 295-315, May.
    11. Lans Bovenberg, A. & Jacobs, Bas, 2005. "Redistribution and education subsidies are Siamese twins," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(11-12), pages 2005-2035, December.
    12. A. D. Roy, 1951. "Some Thoughts On The Distribution Of Earnings," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 3(2), pages 135-146.
    13. Zvi Griliches, 1970. "Notes on the Role of Education in Production Functions and Growth Accounting," NBER Chapters,in: Education, Income, and Human Capital, pages 71-127 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    14. Anderberg, Dan & Andersson, Fredrik, 2003. "Investments in human capital, wage uncertainty, and public policy," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(7-8), pages 1521-1537, August.
    15. Daron Acemoglu, 1996. "A Microfoundation for Social Increasing Returns in Human Capital Accumulation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 111(3), pages 779-804.
    16. Lucas, Robert Jr., 1988. "On the mechanics of economic development," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 3-42, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. Domenico Scalera, 2012. "Skilled Migration And Education Policies: Is There Still Scope For A Bhagwati Tax?," Manchester School, University of Manchester, vol. 80(4), pages 447-467, July.

    More about this item


    Human capital; Efficiency; Labour income tax;

    JEL classification:

    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity

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