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Taxation, insurance, and precautionary labor


Netzer, Nick; Scheuer, Florian (2007). Taxation, insurance, and precautionary labor. Journal of Public Economics, 91(7-8):1519-1531.

Abstract

We examine optimal taxation and social insurance with adverse selection in competitive insurance markets. In a previous literature, it has been shown that, with perfect insurance markets, social insurance improves welfare since it is able to redistribute without creating distortions. This result has been taken as robust to the introduction of adverse selection as this would only provide additional justifications for social insurance. We show, however, that adverse selection can weaken the case for social insurance compared to a situation with perfect markets. Whenever social insurance mitigates private underinsurance, it also causes welfare-reducing effects by decreasing precautionary labor supply and hence tax revenue. In addition, adverse selection may reduce the redistributive potential of social insurance. We illustrate our general results using different equilibrium concepts for the insurance market. Notably, we derive conditions under which a complete renunciation of social insurance is optimal and the government only relies on income taxation to achieve its redistributive objectives.

Abstract

We examine optimal taxation and social insurance with adverse selection in competitive insurance markets. In a previous literature, it has been shown that, with perfect insurance markets, social insurance improves welfare since it is able to redistribute without creating distortions. This result has been taken as robust to the introduction of adverse selection as this would only provide additional justifications for social insurance. We show, however, that adverse selection can weaken the case for social insurance compared to a situation with perfect markets. Whenever social insurance mitigates private underinsurance, it also causes welfare-reducing effects by decreasing precautionary labor supply and hence tax revenue. In addition, adverse selection may reduce the redistributive potential of social insurance. We illustrate our general results using different equilibrium concepts for the insurance market. Notably, we derive conditions under which a complete renunciation of social insurance is optimal and the government only relies on income taxation to achieve its redistributive objectives.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:03 Faculty of Economics > Department of Economics
Dewey Decimal Classification:330 Economics
Uncontrolled Keywords:Redistributive taxation, social insurance, adverse selection, precautionary labor
Language:English
Date:August 2007
Deposited On:09 Aug 2017 13:34
Last Modified:18 Feb 2018 13:18
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0047-2727
OA Status:Green
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpubeco.2007.02.004

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