NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Notes on Optimal Wage Taxation and Uncertainty

Jonathan Eaton, Harvey S. Rosen

NBER Working Paper No. 388 (Also Reprint No. r0138)
Issued in February 1981
NBER Program(s):   PE

Most contributions to optimal tax theory have assumed that all prices, including that of leisure, are known with certainty. The purpose of this paper is to analyze optimal taxation when workers have imperfect information about their wages at the time they choose their labor supplies. Both efficiency and redistributive aspects of the problem are considered. The paper begins with a discussion of the positive theory of wage taxation and labor supply under uncertainty. This is followed by a discussion of optimal taxation when individuals are identical, but their wages are stochastic. Finally, the case of simultaneous uncertainty and inequality is discussed. In this part of the paper it is assumed that the government's objective is to maximize a utilitarian social welfare function.

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Published: Eaton, Jonathan and Rosen, Harvey S. "Labor Supply, Uncertainty, and Efficient Taxation." Journal of Public Economics, Vol. 14, No. 3, (December 1980) , pp. 365-374.

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