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What Is Labor Supply and Do Taxes Affect It?

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  • Rosen, Harvey S

Abstract

The issue of tax-induced changes in labor supply behavior has been receiving increasing attention. Economic theory alone can say little about the impact of income taxation on labor supply because of the well- known conflict between income and substitution effects. Therefore, an enormous amount of effort has been devoted to empirical investigation of this problem, with a focus on the impact of taxes on hours of work and labor force participation rates. In Section I of this paper, I briefly discuss this literature and its major conclusions. It has been long understood, however, that the concept "labor supply" is more general than "hours of work." If one individual is healthier, better educated, and more highly motivated than another, then presumably a given number of hours of work will lead to a greater effective labor supply for the former than for the latter. Thus, studies of the effect of taxes on other dimensions of labor supply are needed in order to assess the full impact of taxes on work incentives. The main purpose of this paper is to discuss some of this research (Section II) and to explore its policy implications (Section III).

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 70 (1980)
Issue (Month): 2 (May)
Pages: 171-76

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:70:y:1980:i:2:p:171-76

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References

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  1. Joseph E. Stiglitz, 1968. "The Effects of Income, Wealth, and Capital Gains Taxation on Risk Taking," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 248, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  2. Michael J. Boskin, 1975. "Notes on the Tax Treatment of Human Capital," NBER Working Papers 0116, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. repec:fth:prinin:117 is not listed on IDEAS
  4. Burtless, Gary & Hausman, Jerry A, 1978. "The Effect of Taxation on Labor Supply: Evaluating the Gary Negative Income Tax Experiments," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 86(6), pages 1103-30, December.
  5. Gordon, Roger H. & Blinder, Alan S., 1980. "Market wages, reservation wages, and retirement decisions," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(2), pages 277-308, October.
  6. Gronau, Reuben, 1977. "Leisure, Home Production, and Work-The Theory of the Allocation of Time Revisited," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(6), pages 1099-1123, December.
  7. Rosen, Harvey S, 1976. "Taxes in a Labor Supply Model with Joint Wage-Hours Determination," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 44(3), pages 485-507, May.
  8. Robert J. Willis & Sherwin Rosen, 1978. "Education and Self-Selection," NBER Working Papers 0249, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. R. E. Hall, 1970. "Wages, Income and Hours of Work in the U. S. Labor Force," Working papers 62, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
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Cited by:
  1. Atallah, Gamal, 1998. "Les impôts sur le revenu et l’offre de travail des femmes mariées : une revue de la littérature," L'Actualité Economique, Société Canadienne de Science Economique, vol. 74(1), pages 95-128, mars.
  2. Don Fullerton & Gilbert E. Metcalf, 1997. "Environmental Controls, Scarcity Rents, and Pre-Existing Distortions," Discussion Papers Series, Department of Economics, Tufts University 9703, Department of Economics, Tufts University.
  3. Charles E. McLure, Jr., 1980. "Taxes, Saving, and Welfare: Theory and Evidence," NBER Working Papers 0504, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Don Fullerton & Gilbert E. Metcalf, 2002. "Cap and Trade Policies in the Presence of Monopoly and Distortionary Taxation," NBER Working Papers 8901, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Bovenberg, A.L. & Ewijk, C. van, 1997. "Progressive taxes, equity and human capital accumulation in an endogenous growth model with overlapping generations," Open Access publications from Tilburg University urn:nbn:nl:ui:12-74442, Tilburg University.

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