Optimal Ramsey Taxation with Social Security

We develop an OLG model with heterogeneous agents and aggregate uncertainty to study optimal Ramsey taxation when the government can use a credible set of social security instruments. Social security mitigates the income effect in optimal labor tax smoothing and, together with heterogeneity, adds new redistributive motives to both labor and capital taxes while crowding out others. We calibrate the model on three different economies: the US, Netherlands, and Italy. We argue that the three countries would experience heterogeneous gains, in redistributive and efficiency terms, by moving from the status-quo allocations to those prescribed by a utilitarian Ramsey planner. Our simulations show that retirement benefits in the current economies are higher than their Ramsey-optimal level while we argue that the use of funded social security schemes, neglected in current actual policies, could be welfare improving.

Netspar, Network for Studies on Pensions, Aging and Retirement, is a thinktank and knowledge network. Netspar is dedicated to promoting a wider understanding of the economic and social implications of pensions, aging and retirement in the Netherlands and Europe.

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