Optimal Need-Based Financial Aid
2021, Colas, Mark, Findeisen, Sebastian, Sachs, Dominik
We study the optimal design of student financial aid as a function of parental income. We derive optimal financial aid formulas in a general model. We estimate a model of selection into college for the United States that comprises multidimensional heterogeneity, endogenous parental transfers, dropout, labor supply in college, and uncertain returns. We quantify optimal financial aid in the estimated model and find it is strongly declining in parental income even without distributional concerns. Equity and efficiency go hand in hand.
Redistribution and insurance with simple tax instruments
2017-02, Findeisen, Sebastian, Sachs, Dominik
We analyze optimal taxation of labor and capital income in a life cycle framework with idiosyncratic income risk and ex-ante heterogeneity. Tax instruments are simple in that they can only condition on current income. We provide a decomposition of labor income tax formulas into a redistribution and an insurance component. The latter is independent of the social welfare function and determined by the degree of income risk and risk aversion. The optimal linear capital tax is non-zero and trades off redistribution and insurance against savings distortions. Our quantitative results reveal that the insurance component contributes significantly to optimal labor income tax rates and provides a lower bound on optimal taxes. Optimal capital taxes are significant.
Optimal Participation Taxes and Efficient Transfer Phase-Out
2012, Lorenz, Normann, Sachs, Dominik
We analyze the optimal design of income transfer programs with a special focus on participation taxes and the marginal tax rates in the phase-out region. The analytical framework incorporates labor supply responses along the intensive and extensive margin, where the latter is due to a minimum hours constraint. All results are expressed in reduced form, i.e. in terms of intensive and extensive labor supply elasticities. We derive a formula for the optimal participation taxes and provide a condition under which negative participation taxes are never part of the optimal tax schedule. Concerning the marginal tax rates in the phase-out region, we develop a test for a tax-transfer system to be beyond the top of the Laffer curve and thus to be (second-best) Pareto inefficient. In such a case there would be room for tax cuts (or increases in transfers) which are self-financing and therefore constitute a Pareto improvement. Applying this test to Germany, our analysis suggests that the structure of marginal tax rates in the transfer phase-out region is (second-best) Pareto inefficient.
Social Mobility in Germany
2021, Dodin, Majed, Findeisen, Sebastian, Henkel, Lukas, Sachs, Dominik, Schüle, Paul
We characterize intergenerational social mobility in Germany using census data on the educational attainment of 526,000 children and their parents’ earnings. Our measure of educational attainment is the A-Level degree, a requirement for access to university and the most important qualification in the German education system. On average, a 10 percentile increase in the parental income rank is associated with a 5.2 percentage point increase in the probability to obtain an A-Level. This parental income gradient has not changed for the birth cohorts from 1980 to 1996, despite a largescale policy of expanding upper secondary education in Germany. At the regional level, there exists substantial variation in mobility estimates. Place effects, rather than sorting of households into different regions, seem to account for most of these geographical differences. Mobile regions are, among other aspects, characterized by high school quality and enhanced possibilities to obtain an A-Level degree in vocational schools.
Education and optimal dynamic taxation : The role of income-contingent student loans
2016-06, Findeisen, Sebastian, Sachs, Dominik
We study the optimal design of integrated education finance and tax systems. The distribution of wages is endogenously determined by the costly education decisions of heterogeneous individuals before labor market entry. Consistent with empirical evidence, this human capital investment decision is risky. We find that an integrated education and tax system in which the government provides education loans to young individuals coupled with income-contingent repayment can always be designed in a Pareto optimal way. We present a simple empirically driven application of the framework to US data in which individuals make a college entry decision. We find the optimal repayment schemes for college loans can be well approximated by a schedule that is linearly increasing in income up to a threshold and constant afterwards. So although the full optimum could lead to complicated non-linear schedules in theory, very simple instruments can replicate it fairly well. The welfare gains from income-contingent repayment are significant.
Education Policies and Taxation without Commitment
2018-10-03, Findeisen, Sebastian, Sachs, Dominik
We study the implications of limited commitment on education and tax policies set by benevolent governments. Consistent with real‐world practices, a government can decide to subsidize different levels of education at different rates. A lack of commitment, however, affects the optimal structure of education subsidies. The direction of the effect depends on how labor taxes are designed. With linear labor tax rates and a transfer for redistribution, subsidies become more progressive. By contrast, if the government is only constrained by informational asymmetries when designing taxes, subsidies become more regressive.