Seoul Journal of Economics
[ Article ]
Seoul Journal of Economics - Vol. 34, No. 1, pp.127-154
ISSN: 1225-0279 (Print)
Print publication date 28 Feb 2021
Received 31 Aug 2020 Revised 09 Oct 2020 Accepted 13 Oct 2020

Hidden Wealth and Incentives

Jin Yong Jung
Jin Yong Jung, Assistant Professor, Department of Economics and Tax, Kangnam University, 40 Gangnam-ro, Giheung-gu, Yongin-si, Gyeonggi-do, South Korea, Tel: +82-31-280-3813

JEL Classification: D82, D86, J33, D31


This paper analyzes the characteristics of optimal menu of contracts in the case that agents’ wealth and actions are hidden from the principal. We first consider a benchmark case that the wealth levels of all agents are known to the principal, and we show that the power of incentives for agents with high wealth is greater than the one for agents with low wealth. The reason is that richer agents are less risk averse; providing high incentives for less risk-averse agents is beneficial to the principal. However, in the case that the agents’ wealth is hidden, the principal will fail to achieve social efficiency because rich agents will act like poor agents. Thus, the principal must design another menu of contracts to prevent rich agents from mimicking poor agents. Ultimately, compared with the optimal menu of contracts derived when it was known, the power of incentives for rich agents is identical, but the power of incentives for poor agents declines.


Principal-agent model, Moral hazard, Adverse selection, Hidden wealth, Incentives


This Research was supported by Kangnam University Research Grants (2020).


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