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A Review of Recent Research on Labor Supply Elasticities: Working Paper 2012-12

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  • Robert McClelland
  • Shannon Mok
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    Abstract

    This paper updates a review conducted by CBO in 1996 in which the agency evaluated the academic research on the effects of changes in after-tax wages on labor supply in the U.S. economy. That review concluded that substitution elasticities were larger in absolute value than income elasticities and that the decision to work was more responsive to after-tax wages than was the choice of hours. In this update, we find that for men and single women, estimates of substitution elasticities have increased, and income elasticities still appear to be smaller in absolute value than substitution elasticities. We also find that labor supply elasticities of married women have fallen substantially in the last three decades, although they are still higher than the elasticities of men and unmarried women. Based on our review, the elasticities of broad measures of income (total income less capital gains) from tax return data are in most instances consistent with the labor supply elasticities estimated using survey data. We find little compelling evidence that high-income taxpayers have substantially higher elasticities with respect to their labor input than other taxpayers: While some studies have estimated higher elasticities of broad income among high-income taxpayers, those results appear to reflect those taxpayers’ greater ability to time their income. In contrast, we find evidence that low-income workers have higher elasticities of labor supply than other workers, especially in the component of their labor response that reflects movement in and out of the workforce.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Congressional Budget Office in its series Working Papers with number 43675.

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    Date of creation: 25 Oct 2012
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    Handle: RePEc:cbo:wpaper:43675

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    1. Blau, Francine D. & Kahn, Lawrence M., 2006. "Changes in the Labor Supply Behavior of Married Women: 1980-2000," IZA Discussion Papers 2180, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    2. Kelly Bishop & Bradley Heim & Kata Mihaly, 2009. "Single Women's Labor Supply Elasticities: Trends and Policy Implications," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 63(1), pages 146, October.
    3. Michael Keane, 2010. "Labor Supply and Taxes: A Survey," Working Paper Series 160, Finance Discipline Group, UTS Business School, University of Technology, Sydney.
    4. Bradley T. Heim, 2009. "Structural Estimation of Family Labor Supply with Taxes: Estimating a Continuous Hours Model Using a Direct Utility Specification," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 44(2).
    5. Raj Chetty & Adam Guren & Dayanand S. Manoli & Andrea Weber, 2011. "Does Indivisible Labor Explain the Difference Between Micro and Macro Elasticities? A Meta-Analysis of Extensive Margin Elasticities," NBER Working Papers 16729, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Robert K. Triest, 1990. "The Effect of Income Taxation on Labor Supply in the United States," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 25(3), pages 491-516.
    7. Bradley T. Heim, 2007. "The Incredible Shrinking Elasticities: Married Female Labor Supply, 1978–2002," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 42(4).
    8. Ziliak, J. & Kniesner, T.J., 1995. "Estimating life-cycle labor supply tax effects," Discussion Paper 1995-89, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
    9. Chetty, Nadarajan, 2012. "Bounds on Elasticities With Optimization Frictions: A Synthesis of Micro and Macro Evidence on Labor Supply," Scholarly Articles 9748524, Harvard University Department of Economics.
    10. Bruce D. Meyer & Dan T. Rosenbaum, 1999. "Welfare, the Earned Income Tax Credit, and the Labor Supply of Single Mothers," NBER Working Papers 7363, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Emmanuel Saez, 2004. "Reported Incomes and Marginal Tax Rates, 1960-2000: Evidence and Policy Implications," NBER Working Papers 10273, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Guido W. Imbens & Donald B. Rubin & Bruce I. Sacerdote, 2001. "Estimating the Effect of Unearned Income on Labor Earnings, Savings, and Consumption: Evidence from a Survey of Lottery Players," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(4), pages 778-794, September.
    13. Giertz, Seth H., 2007. "The Elasticity of Taxable Income over the 1980s and 1990s," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 60(4), pages 743-68, December.
    14. Jon Gruber & Emmanuel Saez, 2000. "The Elasticity of Taxable Income: Evidence and Implications," NBER Working Papers 7512, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    15. Seth H. Giertz, 2010. "The Elasticity of Taxable Income during the 1990s: New Estimates and Sensitivity Analyses," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 77(2), pages 406-433, October.
    16. Brian A. Jacob & Jens Ludwig, 2012. "The Effects of Housing Assistance on Labor Supply: Evidence from a Voucher Lottery," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(1), pages 272-304, February.
    17. Emmanuel Saez & Joel Slemrod & Seth H. Giertz, 2012. "The Elasticity of Taxable Income with Respect to Marginal Tax Rates: A Critical Review," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 50(1), pages 3-50, March.
    18. Wojciech Kopczuk, 2004. "Tax bases, tax rates and the elasticity of reported income," Discussion Papers 0304-15, Columbia University, Department of Economics.
    19. repec:fth:stanho:e-90-11 is not listed on IDEAS
    20. Eissa, Nada & Hoynes, Hilary Williamson, 2004. "Taxes and the labor market participation of married couples: the earned income tax credit," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(9-10), pages 1931-1958, August.
    21. Austan Goolsbee, 1997. "What Happens When You Tax the Rich? Evidence from Executive Compensation," NBER Working Papers 6333, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    22. Anil Kumar, 2012. "Nonparametric estimation of the impact of taxes on female labor supply," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 27(3), pages 415-439, 04.
    23. Edward C. Prescott, 2006. "Nobel Lecture: The Transformation of Macroeconomic Policy and Research," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 114(2), pages 203-235, April.
    24. Thomas MaCurdy & David Green & Harry Paarsch, 1990. "Assessing Empirical Approaches for Analyzing Taxes and Labor Supply," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 25(3), pages 415-490.
    25. Bradley T. Heim, 2009. "The effect of recent tax changes on taxable income: Evidence from a new panel of tax returns," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 28(1), pages 147-163.
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