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Income maintenance programs and multidimensional screening

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  • Joel Shapiro

Abstract

This paper examines properties of optimal poverty assistance programs under different informational environments using an income maintenance framework. To that end, we make both the income generating ability and the disutility of labor of individuals unobservable, and compare the resulting benefit schedules with those of programs found in the United States since Welfare Reform (1996). We find that optimal programs closely resemble a Negative Income Tax with a Benefit Reduction rate that depends on the distribution of population characteristics. A policy of workfare (unpaid public sector work) is inefficient when disutility of labor is unobservable, but minimum work requirements (for paid work) may be used in that same environment. The distortions to work incentives and the presence of minimum work requirements depend on the observability and relative importance of the population's characteristics.

Suggested Citation

  • Joel Shapiro, 2001. "Income maintenance programs and multidimensional screening," Economics Working Papers 544, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  • Handle: RePEc:upf:upfgen:544
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    Cited by:

    1. De Donder, Philippe & Hindriks, Jean, 2003. "Policy-Oriented Parties and the Choice between Social and Private Insurance," IDEI Working Papers 226, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse.
    2. De Donder, Philippe & Hindriks, Jean, 2007. "Equilibrium social insurance with policy-motivated parties," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 23(3), pages 624-640, September.
    3. Brett, Craig & Weymark, John A., 2003. "Financing education using optimal redistributive taxation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(11), pages 2549-2569, October.
    4. Josepa Miquel-Florensa, 2010. "“Tell me what you need”: signaling with limited resources," Journal of Economics, Springer, vol. 99(1), pages 1-28, February.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Welfare programs; optimal taxation; multidimensional screening;

    JEL classification:

    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • H21 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Efficiency; Optimal Taxation
    • H53 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Government Expenditures and Welfare Programs

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