Jon M. Bakija

Photo of Jon M. Bakija

Chair of Economics and W. Van Alan Clark '41 Third Century Professor in the Social Sciences

Schapiro Hall Rm 330


B.A. Wesleyan University (1990)
M.A. University of Michigan, Economics (1995)
Ph.D. University of Michigan, Economics (2000)

Areas of Expertise

  • Public economics
  • Tax policy
  • Charitable giving
  • Income inequality
  • Applied econometrics
  • Social Security

Course syllabi

ECON 504: Public Economics in Developing Countries (Fall 2022)
POEC 250: Economic Liberalism and its Critics (Fall 2021)
ECON 120: Principles of Macroeconomics (Spring 2021)
ECON 514 / 389: Tax Policy in Global Perspective (Spring 2019)
ECON 457: Public Economics Research Seminar (Spring 2017)


Taxing Ourselves: A Citizen’s Guide to the Debate Over Taxes. (with Joel Slemrod) Cambridge: MIT Press. 5th edition published June 2017; 4th edition published 2008; 3rd edition 2004; 2nd edition 2000; 1st edition 1996; Japanese language edition published 2003 by Konnichisha of Tokyo. Chinese simplified character edition, published by Dongbei University of Finance and Economics Press, 2013.

How Big Should Our Government Be? (with Lane Kenworthy, Peter Lindert, and Jeff Madrick). Berkeley: University of California Press, June 2016. Chinese language edition forthcoming. Read press coverage: The New York Times (8/2/2016); The Washington Post (8/8/2016).

Retooling Social Security for the 21st Century. (with Eugene Steuerle). Urban Institute Press, 1994

Research Papers

Documentation for a Comprehensive Historical U.S. Federal and State Income Tax Calculator Program. Williams College, working paper, March 2022 version. [Documentation for August 2009 version is available here.]

Documentation for a Federal and State Inheritance and Estate Tax Calculator. Williams College, working paper, August 2016 version.

Effects of the Level and Structure of Taxes on Long-Run Economic Growth: What Can We Learn from Panel Time-Series Techniques? (with Tarun Narasimhan). 2015.

Capital Gains Taxes and Realizations: Evidence from a Long Panel of State-Level Data. (with Bill Gentry). 2014.

Evidence on the Responsiveness of Export-Related VAT Evasion to VAT Rates in the EU. (with Ivan Badinski). 2014.

Tax Policy and Philanthropy: A Primer on the Empirical Evidence for the U.S. and its Implications. Social Research, Vol. 80 No. 2 (Summer 2013). Web appendix available here.

Jobs and Income Growth of Top Earners and the Causes of Changing Income Inequality: Evidence from U.S. Tax Return Data. (with Adam Cole and Bradley Heim), March 2009, revised January 2012. Read press articles citing this paper: Washington Post 6/18/2011Philadelphia Inquirer 8/14/2011Washington Post Wonkblog 10/11/2011New York Times Economix Blog 10/17/2011New York Times 10/29/2011David Brooks, New York Times 10/31/2011Gannett Newspapers 11/11/2011;  New York Review of Books Blog 11/16/2011The Economist 1/21/2012Washington Post 1/30/2012.

How Does Charitable Giving Respond to Incentives and Income? New Estimates from Panel Data.  (with Bradley Heim).  National Tax Journal, 2011, Vol. 64, No. 2, Part 2, pp. 615-650.  Web appendix is available here.   A substantially different, preliminary version was released under a slightly different title as NBER working paper No. 14237, available here. Read press articles citing this paper: Chronicle of Philanthropy 10/2/2011 Part 1, Part 2.

Modeling Income in the Near Term 5. 2007. (with Karen E. Smith, Melissa Favreault, Caroline E. Ratcliffe, Barbara A. Butrica, and Eric J. Toder). Urban Institute Project Report.

New Evidence on the Effects of Taxes on Charitable Bequests. (with William Gale and Joel Slemrod), working paper, 2005.

Do the Rich Flee from High State Taxes? Evidence from Federal Estate Tax Returns. (with Joel Slemrod). NBER Working Paper No. 10645, July 2004. (Revise/resubmit invited at Journal of Public Economics.) Read press articles citing this paper: Washington Post 7/3/2005.

Timing vs. Long-run Charitable Giving Behavior: Reconciling Divergent Approaches and Estimates. (with Rob McClelland). Williams college, working paper, 2004.

Effects of Estate Tax Reform on Charitable Giving. (with William Gale). Tax Notes. June 23, 2003, p. 1841. (also published as Urban Brookings Tax Policy Center Issues and Options Paper No. 6, July 2003).

Charitable Bequests and Taxes on Inheritances and Estates: Aggregate Evidence from across States and Time. (with William Gale and Joel Slemrod), American Economic Review, May 2003.

Growing Inequality and Decreased Tax Progressivity. (with Joel Slemrod) in Kevin Hassett and R. Glenn Hubbard, eds., Inequality and Tax Policy, American Enterprise Institute Press, 2001. (earlier version available as: “Does Growing Inequality Reduce Tax Progressivity? Should It?” NBER Working Paper No. 7576, March 2000.)

Distinguishing Transitory and Permanent Price Elasticities of Charitable Giving with Pre-Announced Changes in Tax Law. Williams College. 2000. (Revise and resubmit requested at Journal of Public Economics)

The Effect of Taxes on Portfolio Choice: Evidence from Panel Data Spanning the Tax Reform Act of 1986. Williams College, 2000. (Revise and resubmit requested at National Tax Journal).

Retooling Social Security for the 21st Century. (with Eugene Steuerle) Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 60, No. 2, 1997.

Individual Income Taxation Since 1948. (with Eugene Steuerle) National Tax Journal, Vol. XLIV, No. 4, Part 2, 1991.

Presentation Slides

Tax Policy in the Age of Trump (and Beyond). Williams College Faculty Lecture, February 2018, updated for “Real World Econ Talk” April 2018.

Papers Written for Teaching Purposes

A Primer on Discounting, Climate Change, and Intergenerational Equity, 2016

A Non-Technical Introduction to Regression. August 2013

Social Welfare, Distributive Justice, the Tradeoff between Equity and Efficiency, and the Marginal Efficiency Cost of Funds. (First draft: August 2012. This version: February 2019).

Social Welfare, Distributive Justice, the Tradeoff between Efficiency and Equity, and the Marginal Efficiency Cost of Funds, Part 2: Evidence and Examples from Around the World. (First draft: August 2012. This version: September 2016).

Insurance and Asymmetric Information. (First draft: 2013. This draft: 2022.)

The Elasticity of Taxable Income, Tax Evasion, and the Russian Flat Tax Reform. (This draft: February 2019. First draft: April 2011.)

Notes on Indifference Curve Analysis of the Choice between Leisure and Labor, and the Deadweight Loss of Taxation. (2011.)

How Taxes Affect Incentives to Invest. (First draft: 2010. This version: 2024).

Selected Work Experience

Visiting Associate Professor of Law, Cornell Law School, 2007-2008

Economist, President’s Advisory Panel on Federal Tax Reform, Summer 2005.

Visiting Associate Analyst, Congressional Budget Office, 2003-2004.

Model-Okun Visiting Fellow in Economic Studies, The Brookings Institution, 2002-2003.

Graduate Student Research Assistant Office of Tax Policy Research, University of Michigan School of Business, 1994-1998.

Research Associate, The Urban Institute, 1992-1993.

Research Assistant, The Urban Institute, 1990-1992.