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Endogenous Selection of Comparison Groups, Human Capital Formation, and Tax Policy

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Abstract

This paper considers a setting in which the acquisition of human capital entails a change of location in social space that causes individuals to revise their comparison groups. Skill levels are viewed as occupational groups, and moving up the skill ladder by acquiring additional human capital, which in itself is rewarding, leads to a shift in the individual’s inclination tocompare himself with a different, and on average better-paid, comparison group, which in itself is penalizing. The paper sheds new light on the dynamics of human capital formation, and suggests novel policy interventions to encourage human capital formation in the aggregate and, at the same time, reduce inter-group income inequality.

Suggested Citation

  • Oded Stark & Walter Hyll & Yong Wang, 2010. "Endogenous Selection of Comparison Groups, Human Capital Formation, and Tax Policy," Vienna Economics Papers 1009, University of Vienna, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:vie:viennp:1009
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Stutzer, Alois, 2004. "The role of income aspirations in individual happiness," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 54(1), pages 89-109, May.
    2. Alberto Alesina & Dani Rodrik, 1994. "Distributive Politics and Economic Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 109(2), pages 465-490.
    3. Flavio Cunha & James J. Heckman, 2009. "The Economics and Psychology of Inequality and Human DEvelopment," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 7(2-3), pages 320-364, 04-05.
    4. Philippe Belley & Lance Lochner, 2007. "The Changing Role of Family Income and Ability in Determining Educational Achievement," Journal of Human Capital, University of Chicago Press, vol. 1(1), pages 37-89.
    5. Erzo F. P. Luttmer, 2005. "Neighbors as Negatives: Relative Earnings and Well-Being," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 120(3), pages 963-1002.
    6. Marek Kapicka, 2006. "Optimal Income Taxation with Human Capital Accumulation and Limited Record Keeping," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 9(4), pages 612-639, October.
    7. C. Simon Fan & Oded Stark, 2011. "A Theory Of Migration As A Response To Occupational Stigma," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 52(2), pages 549-571, May.
    8. Persson, Torsten & Tabellini, Guido, 1994. "Is Inequality Harmful for Growth?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(3), pages 600-621, June.
    9. Andrew E. Clark & Paul Frijters & Michael A. Shields, 2008. "Relative Income, Happiness, and Utility: An Explanation for the Easterlin Paradox and Other Puzzles," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 46(1), pages 95-144, March.
    10. Shlomo Yitzhaki, 1979. "Relative Deprivation and the Gini Coefficient," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 93(2), pages 321-324.
    11. George A. Akerlof, 1997. "Social Distance and Social Decisions," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(5), pages 1005-1028, September.
    12. Diamond, Peter A, 1998. "Optimal Income Taxation: An Example with a U-Shaped Pattern of Optimal Marginal Tax Rates," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(1), pages 83-95, March.
    13. 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.
    14. Michael J. Boskin, 1975. "Notes on the Tax Treatment of Human Capital," NBER Working Papers 0116, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Oded Stark & Marcin Jakubek, 2016. "Can a Concern for Status Reconcile Diverse Social Welfare Programs?," Research on Economic Inequality,in: Inequality after the 20th Century: Papers from the Sixth ECINEQ Meeting, volume 24, pages 235-246 Emerald Publishing Ltd.
    2. repec:bla:germec:v:18:y:2017:i:3:p:302-326 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Stark, Oded & Kobus, Martyna & Jakubek, Marcin, 2012. "A concern about low relative income, and the alignment of utilitarianism with egalitarianism," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 114(3), pages 235-238.
    4. Stark, Oded, 2013. "Stressful Integration," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 63(C), pages 1-9.
    5. Stark, Oded, 2012. "Integration, social distress, and policy formation," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 115(2), pages 318-321.
    6. Sorger, Gerhard & Stark, Oded, 2013. "Income redistribution going awry: The reversal power of the concern for relative deprivation," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 86(C), pages 1-9.
    7. repec:bla:revinw:v:63:y:2017:i:4:p:899-911 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Oded Stark, 2017. "Migration when Social Preferences are Ordinal: Steady-state Population Distribution and Social Welfare," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 84(336), pages 647-666, October.
    9. Stark, Oded & Jakubek, Marcin & Falniowski, Fryderyk, 2014. "Reconciling the Rawlsian and the utilitarian approaches to the maximization of social welfare," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 122(3), pages 439-444.
    10. Stark, Oded & Falniowski, Fryderyk & Jakubek, Marcin, 2016. "Consensus income distribution," Discussion Papers 250120, University of Bonn, Center for Development Research (ZEF).
    11. Stark, Oded, 2012. "Policy responses to a dark side of the integration of regions and nations," Discussion Papers 122036, University of Bonn, Center for Development Research (ZEF).
    12. Stark, Oded, 2012. "Policy responses to a dark side of the integration of regions," University of Tuebingen Working Papers in Economics and Finance 28, University of Tuebingen, Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences.
    13. Stark, Oded & Zawojska, Ewa & Kohler, Wilhelm & Szczygielski, Krzysztof, 2018. "An adverse social welfare effect of a doubly gainful trade," University of Tuebingen Working Papers in Economics and Finance 106, University of Tuebingen, Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D11 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Theory
    • H24 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Personal Income and Other Nonbusiness Taxes and Subsidies
    • H30 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - General
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity

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