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Optimal Income Transfer Programs: Intensive Versus Extensive Labor Supply Responses

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  • Emmanuel Saez

Abstract

This paper analyzes optimal income transfers for low incomes. Labor supply responses are modeled along the intensive margin (intensity of work on the job) and along the extensive margin (participation into the labor force). When behavioral responses are concentrated along the intensive margin, the optimal transfer program is a classical Negative Income Tax program with a substantial guaranteed income support and a large phasing-out tax rate. However, when behavioral responses are concentrated along the extensive margin, the optimal transfer program is similar to the Earned Income Tax Credit with negative marginal tax rates at low income levels and a small guaranteed income. Carefully calibrated numerical simulations are provided. © 2001 the President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by MIT Press in its journal The Quarterly Journal of Economics.

Volume (Year): 117 (2002)
Issue (Month): 3 (August)
Pages: 1039-1073

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Handle: RePEc:tpr:qjecon:v:117:y:2002:i:3:p:1039-1073

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  1. Kanbur, Ravi & Keen, Michael & Toumala, Matti, 1991. "Optimal non-linear income taxation for the alleviation of income poverty," Policy Research Working Paper Series 616, The World Bank.
  2. Blank, Rebecca M. & Card, David & Robins, Philip K., 1999. "Financial Incentives for Increasing Work and Income Among Low-Income Families," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt2f15x7sg, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  3. Diamond, P. A. & Helms, L. J. & Mirrlees, J. A., 1980. "Optimal taxation in a stochastic economy : A Cobb-Douglas example," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(1), pages 1-29, August.
  4. Nada Eissa & Hilary Williamson Hoynes, 1998. "The Earned Income Tax Credit and the Labor Supply of Married Couples," NBER Working Papers 6856, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Emmanuel Saez, 2000. "Using Elasticities to Derive Optimal Income Tax Rates," NBER Working Papers 7628, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Bruce D. Meyer & Dan T. Rosenbaum, 2001. "Welfare, The Earned Income Tax Credit, And The Labor Supply Of Single Mothers," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 116(3), pages 1063-1114, August.
  7. Mirrlees, James A, 1971. "An Exploration in the Theory of Optimum Income Taxation," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 38(114), pages 175-208, April.
  8. Gruber, Jon & Saez, Emmanuel, 2002. "The elasticity of taxable income: evidence and implications," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(1), pages 1-32, April.
  9. Blundell, Richard & Macurdy, Thomas, 1999. "Labor supply: A review of alternative approaches," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 27, pages 1559-1695 Elsevier.
  10. Danziger, Sheldon & Haveman, Robert & Plotnick, Robert, 1981. "How Income Transfer Programs Affect Work, Savings, and the Income Distribution: A Critical Review," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 19(3), pages 975-1028, September.
  11. P. A. Diamond & J. A. Mirrlees, 1977. "A Model of Social Insurance With Variable Retirement," Working papers 210, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  12. Mirrlees, J. A., 1982. "Migration and optimal income taxes," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(3), pages 319-341, August.
  13. Eissa, Nada & Liebman, Jeffrey B, 1996. "Labor Supply Response to the Earned Income Tax Credit," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 111(2), pages 605-37, May.
  14. Zeckhauser, Richard J, 1971. "Optimal Mechanisms for Income Transfer," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 61(3), pages 324-34, June.
  15. David Card & Philip K. Robins, 1996. "Do Financial Incentives Encourage Welfare Recipients to Work? Evidence from a Randomized Evaluation of the Self-Sufficiency Project," NBER Working Papers 5701, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Philip K. Robins, 1985. "A Comparison of the Labor Supply Findings from the Four Negative Income Tax Experiments," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 20(4), pages 567-582.
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