[New] Stefanie Stantcheva: Responses to Taxation Among High Incomes


Monday, April 20, 2015, 12:00pm to 1:45pm


Harvard Kennedy School: Allison Dining Room

Stefanie Stantcheva, Junior Fellow, Harvard Society of Fellows. Assistant Professor of Economics, Harvard University (beginning July 2016).

The quest for a well-designed tax system weighs the need raise revenue and redistribute income more fairly against the fear of discouraging economic activity. Particularly important in this quest is the understanding of the tax responses of high incomes. 

In this seminar, we will examine the effects of top income taxes on two important and very different groups of top earners: top executives and "superstar'' inventors. We will show that in the data, top executives respond to taxation not only by limiting their productive effort (which is bad), but also by limiting their bargaining and rent-seeking effort (which is good).

Turning to superstar inventors, who are among the key drivers of technological progress, we will ask whether tax policy affects migration and whether the fear of a "brain drain'' and of the exodus of highly valuable economic agents in response to taxation is justified. 

Finally, we will conclude by showing some evidence on how the public and voters react to information regarding inequality and top incomes when deciding which tax and transfer policies to support. 

This talk will draw from several papers:

Taxation and the International Mobility of Inventors (By Ufuk Akcigit, Salomé Baslandze, and Stefanie Stantcheva)

Optimal Taxation of Top Labor Incomes: A Tale of Three Elasticities (By Thomas Piketty, Emmanuel Saez, and Stefanie Stantcheva). American Economic Journal: Economic Policy 6(1), 2014.

How Elastic Are Preferences for Redistribution? Evidence from Randomized Survey Experiments(By Ilyana Kuziemko, Michael I. Norton, Emmanuel Saez, and Stefanie Stantcheva). American Economic Review 105(4), 2015.

About the speaker

Stefanie Stantcheva is currently a Junior Fellow at the Harvard Society of Fellows, and will begin an appointment as an Assistant Professor at the Harvard Department of Economics in July 2016. She received her Ph.D. in Economics from MIT in 2014.

Stantcheva's research focuses on the optimal design of the tax system, taking into account important labor market features, more complex social preferences, and long-term effects such as human capital acquisition and productive investments by firms. 

See also: Spring 2015