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Education and optimal dynamic taxation: The role of income-contingent student loans

  • Sebastian Findeisen
  • Dominik Sachs

We study Pareto optimal tax and education policies when human capital upon labor market entry is endogenous and individuals face wage uncertainty. Though optimal labor distortions are history-dependent, i.e. depend on income and education, simple policy instruments can yield the desired distortions: a single nonlinear labor income tax schedule combined with income-contingent loans. To take themodel to the (US) data, we simplify the model to a binary education decision (graduating from college or not). We find that for lowand intermediate incomes the labor supply decision of college graduates should be distorted more heavily than for individuals without a college degree. As a consequence, the optimal student loan repayment schedule increases in income for this range. This result holds along the Pareto frontier. We compare the second best to a situation where loan repayment is restricted to be independent from income and find significant welfare gains.

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Paper provided by Department of Economics - University of Zurich in its series ECON - Working Papers with number 040.

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Date of creation: Oct 2011
Date of revision: Sep 2012
Handle: RePEc:zur:econwp:040
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  1. Mark Huggett & Gustavo Ventura & Amir Yaron, 2011. "Sources of Lifetime Inequality," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(7), pages 2923-54, December.
  2. Mikhail Golosov & Narayana R. Kocherlakota & Aleh Tsyvinski, 2001. "Optimal indirect and capital taxation," Working Papers 615, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
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  8. Helmuth Cremer & Firouz Gahvari & Jean-Marie Lozachmeur, 2010. "Tagging and Income Taxation: Theory and an Application," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 2(1), pages 31-50, February.
  9. 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.
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  11. N. Gregory Mankiw & Matthew Weinzierl, 2009. "The Optimal Taxation of Height: A Case Study of Utilitarian Income Redistribution," NBER Working Papers 14976, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Flavio Cunha & James Heckman & Salvador Navarro, 2005. "Separating uncertainty from heterogeneity in life cycle earnings," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 57(2), pages 191-261, April.
  13. Marek Kapicka & Radim Bohacek, 2007. "Optimal Human Capital Policies," 2007 Meeting Papers 464, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  14. Bas Jacobs & Dirk Schindler & Hongyan Yang, 2009. "Optimal Taxation of Risky Human Capital," CESifo Working Paper Series 2529, CESifo Group Munich.
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  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. A. Lans Bovenberg & Bas Jacobs, 2005. "Redistribution and Education Subsidies are Siamese Twins," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 05-036/3, Tinbergen Institute.
  19. Pascal Courty & Li Hao, 1997. "Sequential screening," Economics Working Papers 224, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
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