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Endogenous selection of comparison groups, human capital formation, and tax policy

  • Hyll, Walter
  • Stark, Oded
  • Wang, Yong

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 to compare 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.

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Paper provided by University of Tuebingen, Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences in its series University of Tuebingen Working Papers in Economics and Finance with number 3.

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Date of creation: 2011
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Handle: RePEc:zbw:tuewef:3
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  1. Flavio Cunha & James J. Heckman, 2009. "The Economics and Psychology of Inequality and Human Development," NBER Working Papers 14695, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Mirrlees, James A, 1971. "An Exploration in the Theory of Optimum Income Taxation," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 38(114), pages 175-208, April.
  3. Gerry Mooney, 2009. "The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better," Local Economy, Taylor and Francis Journals, vol. 24(8), pages 705-706.
  4. Alois Stutzer, . "The Role of Income Aspirations in Individual Happiness," IEW - Working Papers 124, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
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  6. Persson, Torsten & Tabellini, Guido, 1994. "Is Inequality Harmful for Growth?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(3), pages 600-621, June.
  7. Philippe Belley & Lance Lochner, 2007. "The Changing Role of Family Income and Ability in Determining Educational Achievement," NBER Working Papers 13527, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Michael J. Boskin, 1975. "Notes on the Tax Treatment of Human Capital," NBER Working Papers 0116, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. 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.
  10. Stark, Oded & Fan, C. Simon, 2009. "A Theory of Migration as a Response to Occupational Stigma," Discussion Papers 55363, University of Bonn, Center for Development Research (ZEF).
  11. Yitzhaki, Shlomo, 1979. "Relative Deprivation and the Gini Coefficient," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 93(2), pages 321-24, May.
  12. Luttmer, Erzo F. P., 2004. "Neighbors as Negatives: Relative Earnings and Well-Being," Working Paper Series rwp04-029, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  13. George A. Akerlof, 1997. "Social Distance and Social Decisions," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(5), pages 1005-1028, September.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
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