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Income maintenance programs and multidimensional screening
Shapiro, Joel
Universitat Pompeu Fabra. Departament d'Economia i Empresa
This paper examines properties of optimal poverty assistance programs under different informational environments using an income maintenanceframework. To that end, we make both the income generating ability andthe disutility of labor of individuals unobservable, and compare theresulting benefit schedules with those of programs found in the UnitedStates since Welfare Reform (1996). We find that optimal programs closelyresemble a Negative Income Tax with a Benefit Reduction rate that dependson the distribution of population characteristics. A policy of workfare(unpaid public sector work) is inefficient when disutility of labor isunobservable, but minimum work requirements (for paid work) may be usedin that same environment. The distortions to work incentives and thepresence of minimum work requirements depend on the observability andrelative importance of the population's characteristics.
welfare programs
optimal taxation
multidimensional screening
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