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Sick of Taxes? Evidence on the Elasticity of Labor Supply when Workers Are Free to Choose

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  • Martin Ljunge

    (University of Copenhagen and SITE)

Abstract

I estimate a price elasticity of sickness absence. Sick leave is an intensive margin of labor supply where individuals are free to adjust. I exploit variation in tax rates over two decades, which provide thousands of differential incentives across time and space, to estimate the price responsiveness. High taxes provide an incentive to take more sick leave, as less after tax income is lost when taxes are high. The panel data, which is representative of the Swedish population, allow for extensive controls including unobserved individual characteristics. I find a substantial price elasticity of sick leave, -0.7, with respect to the net of tax rate. Though large relative to traditional labor supply elasticities, Swedes are half as price elastic as bike messengers, and just as elastic as stadium vendors on the margin which they can adjust freely.

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File URL: http://www.econ.ku.dk/english/research/publications/wp/dp_2011/1127.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics in its series Discussion Papers with number 11-27.

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Length: 37 pages
Date of creation: 18 Oct 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:kud:kuiedp:1127

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Web page: http://www.econ.ku.dk
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Related research

Keywords: sick leave; adjustable labor supply; work effort; taxes;

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References

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  1. Patrick Puhani & Katja Sonderhof, 2009. "The Effects of a Sick Pay Reform on Absence and on Health-Related Outcomes," University of St. Gallen Department of Economics working paper series 2009 2009-34, Department of Economics, University of St. Gallen.
  2. Johansson, Per & Palme, Marten, 1996. "Do economic incentives affect work absence? Empirical evidence using Swedish micro data," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 59(2), pages 195-218, February.
  3. Gerald S. Oettinger, 1999. "An Empirical Analysis of the Daily Labor Supply of Stadium Vendors," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(2), pages 360-392, April.
  4. Per Pettersson-Lidbom & Peter Skogman Thoursie, 2013. "Temporary Disability Insurance and Labor Supply: Evidence from a Natural Experiment," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 115(2), pages 485-507, 04.
  5. Tim A. Barmby & Marco G. Ercolani & John G. Treble, 2002. "Sickness Absence: An International Comparison," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(480), pages F315-F331, June.
  6. Henrekson, Magnus & Persson, Mats, 2001. "The Effects on Sick Leave of Changes in the Sickness Insurance System," Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance 0444, Stockholm School of Economics, revised 08 Aug 2001.
  7. Ernst Fehr & Lorenz Goette, 2007. "Do Workers Work More if Wages Are High? Evidence from a Randomized Field Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(1), pages 298-317, March.
  8. Vincent P. Crawford & Juanjuan Meng, 2011. "New York City Cab Drivers' Labor Supply Revisited: Reference-Dependent Preferences with Rational-Expectations Targets for Hours and Income," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(5), pages 1912-32, August.
  9. Kahn, Shulamit & Lang, Kevin, 1991. "The Effect of Hours Constraints on Labor Supply Estimates," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 73(4), pages 605-11, November.
  10. Per Johansson & Mårten Palme, 2002. "Assessing the Effect of Public Policy on Worker Absenteeism," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 37(2), pages 381-409.
  11. MaCurdy, Thomas E, 1981. "An Empirical Model of Labor Supply in a Life-Cycle Setting," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(6), pages 1059-85, December.
  12. Ziebarth N & Karlsson M, 2009. "A Natural Experiment on Sick Pay Cuts, Sickness Absence, and Labor Costs," Health, Econometrics and Data Group (HEDG) Working Papers 09/34, HEDG, c/o Department of Economics, University of York.
  13. Allen, Steven G, 1981. "An Empirical Model of Work Attendance," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 63(1), pages 77-87, February.
  14. John Bound, 1989. "The Health and Earnings of Rejected Disability Insurance Applicants," NBER Working Papers 2816, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Chen, Susan & van der Klaauw, Wilbert, 2008. "The work disincentive effects of the disability insurance program in the 1990s," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 142(2), pages 757-784, February.
  16. Martin Ljunge, 2012. "The Spirit of the Welfare State? Adaptation in the Demand for Social Insurance," Journal of Human Capital, University of Chicago Press, vol. 6(3), pages 187 - 223.
  17. Bound, John & Burkhauser, Richard V., 1999. "Economic analysis of transfer programs targeted on people with disabilities," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 51, pages 3417-3528 Elsevier.
  18. Crawford, Vincent P. & Meng, Juanjuan, 2008. "New York City Cabdrivers' Labor Supply Revisited: Reference-Dependence Preferences with Rational-Expectations Targets for Hours and Income," University of California at San Diego, Economics Working Paper Series qt94w5n6j9, Department of Economics, UC San Diego.
  19. Johansson, Per & Palme, Marten, 2005. "Moral hazard and sickness insurance," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(9-10), pages 1879-1890, September.
  20. William P. Curington, 1994. "Compensation for Permanent Impairment and the Duration of Work Absence: Evidence from Four Natural Experiments," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 29(3), pages 888-910.
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Cited by:
  1. Martin Ljunge, 2011. "The Spirit of the Welfare State? Adaptation in the Demand for Social Insurance," Discussion Papers 11-30, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.

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