MetaTOC stay on top of your field, easily

Consumption adaptation, anticipation‐bias, and optimal income taxation


Journal of Public Economic Theory

Published online on


Adaptation is omnipresent but people systematically fail to correctly anticipate the degree to which they adapt, leading them to make irrational intertemporal decisions. This paper concerns optimal income taxation to correct for such anticipation‐biases in a framework where consumers adapt to earlier consumption levels. The analysis is based on a general equilibrium OLG model with endogenous labor supply and savings where each consumer lives for three periods. The results show how a paternalistic government may correct for the effects of anticipation‐bias through a combination of time‐variant marginal labor income taxes and savings subsidies/taxes. The optimal policy mix remains the same, irrespective of whether consumers commit to their original life time plan for work hours and consumption or reoptimize later on when realizing that they have already adapted more than expected.