Redistribution with ex-ante unobserved choice

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2003-10-02
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Introducing dynamics to Mirrlees' (1971) optimal taxation model creates a whole new set of issues that are only starting to be investigated in the literature. When choices are made before one's realizing her productivity incentive constraints ought to be defined as a function of more complex strategies than in the static case. 80 far, all work has assumed that these choices are observable and can be contracted upon by the government. Here we investigate choices that : i) are not observed, andj ii) affect preferences conditional Oil the realization of types. In the simplest possible model where a non-trivial filtration is incorporated we show how these two characteristics make it necessary for IC constraints to be defined in terms of strategies rather than pure announcements. Tax prescriptions are derived, and it is shown that they bear some resemblance to classic optimal taxation results. We are able to show that in the most 'natural' cases return on capital ought to be taxed . However, we also show that the uniform taxation prescription of Atkinson and Stiglitz fails to hold, in general.


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