Tax Policy and Human Capital Formation

James J. Heckman, Lance Lochner, Christopher Taber

NBER Working Paper No. 6462
Issued in March 1998
NBER Program(s):   PE

Missing from recent discussions of tax reform is any systematic analysis of the effects of various tax proposals on skill formation. This gap in the literature in empirical public finance is due to the absence of any empirically based general equilibrium models with both human capital formation and physical capital formation that are consistent with observations on modern labor markets. This paper is a progress report on our ongoing research on formulating and estimating dynamic general equilibrium models with endogenous heterogeneous human capital accumulation. Our model explains many features of rising wage inequality in the U.S. economy (James Heckman, Lance Lochner and Christopher Taber, 1998). In this paper, we use our model to study the impacts on skill formation of proposals to switch from progressive taxes to flat income and consumption taxes. For the sake of brevity, we focus on steady states in this paper, although we study both transitions and steady states in our research.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w6462

Published: American Economic Review, Vol. 88, no. 2 (May 1998): 293-297. Published as "Human Capital Formation and General Equilibrium Treatment Effects: A Study of Tax and Tuition Policy", FS, Vol. 20, no. 1 (March 1999): 25-40. citation courtesy of

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