NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Nonseparable Preferences and Optimal Social Security Systems

Borys Grochulski, Narayana Kocherlakota

NBER Working Paper No. 13362
Issued in September 2007
NBER Program(s):   EFG   PE

In this paper, we consider economies in which agents are privately informed about their skills, which are evolving stochastically over time. We require agents' preferences to be weakly separable between the lifetime paths of consumption and labor. However, we allow for intertemporal nonseparabilities in preferences like habit formation. We show that such nonseparabilities imply that optimal asset income taxes are necessarily retrospective in nature. We show that under weak conditions, it is possible to implement a socially optimal allocation using a social security system in which taxes on wealth are linear, and taxes/transfers are history-dependent only at retirement. The average asset income tax in this system is zero.

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Published: Grochulski, Borys & Kocherlakota, Narayana, 2010. "Nonseparable preferences and optimal social security systems," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 145(6), pages 2055-2077, November.

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