NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Moral Hazard and Optimal Commodity Taxation

Richard J. Arnott, Joseph E. Stiglitz

NBER Working Paper No. 1154 (Also Reprint No. r0747)
Issued in June 1983
NBER Program(s):   PE

The central result of this paper is that when moral hazard ispresent,competitive equilibrium is almost always (constrained) inefficient. Moral hazard causes shadow prices to deviate from market prices. To remedy this market failure, the government could introduce differential commodity taxation. Moral hazard causes people to take too little care to prevent accidents. The corresponding dead-weight loss can be reduced by subsidizing (taxing) those goods the consumption of which encourages (discourages) accident avoidance.At the (constrained) optimum, the sum of the deadweight losses as-sociated with moral hazard, on the one hand, and differential commodity taxation, on the other, is minimized.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w1154

Published: Arnott, Richard J. and Joseph E. Stiglitz. "Moral Hazard and Optimal Commodity Taxation." Journal of Public Economics, Vol. 29, (1986), pp. 1-24.

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