Esteban MUNOZ SOBRADO PhD thesis, June 26th

June 26, 2024 Research

Esteban MUNOZ SOBRADO will defend his thesis on Wednesday, June 26th at 14:00 pm, Auditorium 5 & by ZOOM

Title: «Essays in Behavioral Public Economics»

Supervisors: Ingela ALGER and Mathias REYNAERT

To attend the conference, please contact the secretariat Christelle Fotso Tatchum

Memberships are:

  • Ingela ALGER : Supervisor CNRS Senior Researcher TSE-R, Supervisor
  • Mathias REYNAERT : Professor in Economics, Université Toulouse Capitole, Co supervisor
  • Jean-Marie LOZACHMEUR : CNRS Senior Researcher, TSE-R, Examinateur
  • Maria PETROVA : Professor in Economics, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Rapporteure
  • Nicolas GRAVEL : Professor in Economics, Aix-Marseille Université, Rapporteur
  • Jennifer MAYO : Assistant Professor in Economics, University of Missouri, Examinatrice
  • Amedeo PIOLATTO : Associate Professor in Economics, Autonomous University of Barcelona, Examinateur


This dissertation studies the interplay between individual and collective decision-making, particularly within behavioral public economics. In it,

I study the influence of social preferences on taxation policies and assess how strategic interactions between prosocial actors shape the centralized and decentralized provision of public goods.

It consists of three papers that correspond to each one of the dissertation chapters and that seek to answer two broad questions. First: How do prosocial actors respond to pecuniary and non-pecuniary incentives in the context of public good provision in large economics? Second: How can we design tax policy to maximize social welfare while accounting for the strategic behavior of prosocial actors?

In order to answer these questions, each one of the papers first identifies the economic implications that prosocial actors have over public good provision in large economies, offering a positive evaluation. Second, it provides normative guidelines for the design of tax policy that is aware of the implications introduced by such prosocial actors.

The first chapter builds a structural model to analyze the inefficiencies in fundraising among U.S. charities, driven by competitive advertising. Using comprehensive data from nonprofit organizations and a leading charity assessment body, it documents substantial leakage—up to 40 percent of budgets used for fundraising rather than public goods provision. These findings imply that traditional estimates of optimal deductibility for charitable donations are overstated unless they account for endogenous responses to tax incentives, suggesting a necessary adjustment downward by approximately ten cents per dollar of deduction.

The second essay expands the prevailing focus on material sanctions within the canonical model of optimal income taxation by introducing non-pecuniary motivations modeled through the lens of evolutionary semi-Kantian preferences as determinants of taxpayers' decisions to comply with the tax authority. It builds a general model of income taxation in the presence of a public good, which agents value morally, and solves for the optimal linear and non-linear taxation problems.

In the third essay, the introduction of semi-Kantian Homo Moralis preferences provides a novel framework for examining the long-term impact of citizens' moral preferences on state fiscal capacity. This model extends beyond traditional fiscal policy analysis by linking individual moral considerations to broader tax compliance and civic culture, contrasting and building upon existing models like Besley's framework on state capacity and social contracts.