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Working Paper No. 1413

Optimal Redistribution in the Presence of Signaling

Working Paper
Bastani, Spencer, Tomer Blumkin and Luca Micheletto (2021). “Optimal Redistribution in the Presence of Signaling”. IFN Working Paper No. 1413. Stockholm: Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN).

Spencer Bastani, Tomer Blumkin, Luca Micheletto

We analyze optimal redistribution in the presence of labor market signaling where innate productive ability is not only unobserved by the government, but also by prospective employers. Our model features signaling in both one and two dimensions, where in the latter case firms have an informational advantage vis-a-vis the government. Focusing on signals in the context of educational attainment, we analyze the dual role of income taxation in redistributing income and affecting signaling incentives as well as the role of extended tax systems that combine income taxation with direct taxes on the signals in the form of education taxes/subsidies. We demonstrate how the government can achieve redistribution through wage compression and analyze the conditions under which such redistribution is feasible and socially desirable.

Spencer Bastani

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