April 2008

IZA DP No. 3451: Efficient Tax Policy Ranks Education Higher Than Saving

revised version based on DP 2328 and DP 3451 published as "Taxing education in Ramsey's tradition" in: Journal of Public Economics, 2009, 93 (11-12), 1254-1260

Assuming a two-period model with endogenous choices of labour, education, and saving, it is shown to be second-best efficient not to distort the choice of education. In general this implies distorting the saving decision. Hence a strict order of policy priority is derived. Efficient tax policy ranks education higher than saving. The result assumes an isoelastic earnings function and holds else for arbitrary utility functions. Isoelasticity of earnings is justified with reference to the empirically well-founded Power Law of Learning.