IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Optimal Wealth Taxes with Risky Human Capital


  • Borys Grochulski
  • Tomasz Piskorski


We study the structure of optimal wedges and wealth taxes in a Mirrleesian economy with endogenous skills. Human capital is a private state variable that drives the skill process of each individual. Building on the findings of the labor literature, we assume that human capital investment is a) risky, b), done early in the life-cycle, and c) indistinguishable from consumption. These assumptions lead to the optimality of a) a human capital premium, i.e., an excess return on human capital relative to physical capital, b) a large intertemporal wedge early in the life-cycle stemming from the lack of Rogerson's (1985) "inverse Euler" characterization of the optimal consumption process, and c) an intra-temporal distortion of the effort/consumption margin even at the top of the skill distribution at all dates except of the terminal date. The main implication for the structure of linear wealth taxes is the necessity of deferred taxation of wealth. In particular, deferred taxation of wealth prevents the agents from making a joint deviation of under-investing in human capital ex ante and shirking at some future date in the life-cycle, as the marginal differed tax rate on wealth held early in the life-cycle is history-dependent. Also, the present value of aggregate marginal tax rate is zero at all dates, which means that, as in Kocherlakota (2005), the government revenue from wealth taxation is zero. Relative to economies with exogenous skills, the optimal marginal wealth tax rate is more volatile

Suggested Citation

  • Borys Grochulski & Tomasz Piskorski, 2006. "Optimal Wealth Taxes with Risky Human Capital," 2006 Meeting Papers 59, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  • Handle: RePEc:red:sed006:59

    Download full text from publisher

    To our knowledge, this item is not available for download. To find whether it is available, there are three options:
    1. Check below whether another version of this item is available online.
    2. Check on the provider's web page whether it is in fact available.
    3. Perform a search for a similarly titled item that would be available.

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Emmanuel Farhi & Iván Werning, 2010. "Progressive Estate Taxation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 125(2), pages 635-673.
    2. 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.
    3. Narayana R. Kocherlakota, 2004. "Wedges and Taxes," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(2), pages 109-113, May.
    4. Stefania Albanesi & Christopher Sleet, 2006. "Dynamic Optimal Taxation with Private Information," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 73(1), pages 1-30.
    5. Davies, James B. & Zeng, Jinli & Zhang, Jie, 2000. "Consumption vs. income taxes when private human capital investments are imperfectly observable," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 77(1), pages 1-28, July.
    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. Michele Boldrin & Ana Montes, 2005. "The Intergenerational State Education and Pensions," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 72(3), pages 651-664.
    8. Ignacio Palacios-Huerta, 2003. "An Empirical Analysis of the Risk Properties of Human Capital Returns," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(3), pages 948-964, June.
    9. Narayana R Kocherlakota, 2005. "Advances in Dynamic Optimal Taxation," Levine's Bibliography 784828000000000518, UCLA Department of Economics.
    10. J. A. Mirrlees, 1971. "An Exploration in the Theory of Optimum Income Taxation," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 38(2), pages 175-208.
    11. Heckman, James J, 1976. "A Life-Cycle Model of Earnings, Learning, and Consumption," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 84(4), pages 11-44, August.
    12. Jones, Larry E. & Manuelli, Rodolfo E. & Rossi, Peter E., 1997. "On the Optimal Taxation of Capital Income," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 73(1), pages 93-117, March.
    13. Rogerson, William P, 1985. "Repeated Moral Hazard," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 53(1), pages 69-76, January.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. da Costa, Carlos E. & Severo, Tiago, 2008. "Education, preferences for leisure and the optimal income tax schedule," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(1-2), pages 113-138, February.
    2. Bohacek, Radim & Kapicka, Marek, 2008. "Optimal human capital policies," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(1), pages 1-16, January.
    3. Bas Jacobs & A. Bovenberg, 2010. "Human capital and optimal positive taxation of capital income," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 17(5), pages 451-478, October.
    4. Albanesi, Stefania, 2006. "Optimal Taxation of Entrepreneurial Capital with Private Information," CEPR Discussion Papers 5647, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.

    More about this item


    Optimal taxation; human capital; Mirrlees approach.;

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


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:red:sed006:59. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Christian Zimmermann). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.