Bas Jacobs, Uwe Thuemmel
International Tax and Public Finance (forthcoming)
Publication year: 2022

This paper studies how linear tax and education policy should optimally respond to skill-biased technical change (SBTC). SBTC affects optimal taxes and subsidies by changing (1) direct distributional benefits of each policy instrument, (2) indirect, general-equilibrium effects on wages, and (3) education distortions. Analytically, the effect of SBTC on these three components is shown to be ambiguous. In simulations for the US economy, SBTC makes the optimal tax system more progressive and lowers optimal education subsidies. This is because for both income taxes and education subsidies; their direct distributional effects become more important, which more than offsets the larger general-equilibrium effects and increased education distortions.