The American tax code is a complicated system that confounds even the most veteran policymakers. The tax structure has long been based on income, where top-tier earners pay more than those at the bottom. But some of the professions that create the greatest public good, such as teaching or medical research, offer little compensation relative to the social benefits they create.
In a recent paper, Wharton business economics and public policy professor Benjamin Lockwood examines whether it is possible to use the tax structure to encourage people to take on careers that promote social good.
It's an intriguing question right now because the public debate around taxation is pulling policymakers in different directions. Lockwood joined Knowledge@Wharton to talk about his research and how the findings add to the debate. The paper, "Taxation and the Allocation of Talent," was co-authored with Charles Nathanson, a professor of finance at Northwestern University, and E. Glen Weyl, a principal researcher at Microsoft Research New England and a visiting senior research scholar at Yale University.