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Tax Elasticity of Labor Earnings for Older Individuals

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  • Abby Alpert

    (RAND)

  • David Powell

    (RAND)

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    Abstract

    This paper studies the impact of income and payroll taxes on intensive and extensive labor supply decisions for workers ages 55-74 using the Health and Retirement Study. The literature provides little guidance about the responsiveness of this population to tax incentives, though the tax code is potentially an important mechanism that can alter retirement incentives. We model labor force participation decisions and labor earnings as functions of taxes, and we use the intensive margin to inform estimation of the extensive margin equation. Our method accounts for selection into labor force participation with a plausibly exogenous shock to employment. We use the results of our intensive labor supply estimation to predict the after-tax labor earnings of every person in our sample, including those that do not work. This method allows us to generate consistent estimates of the impact of taxes on employment and retirement. We find large compensated elasticities on the intensive margin. These results are imprecise, but they are statistically significant for women. On the extensive margin, we find significant effects on labor force participation and, for men, retirement decisions. Our estimates suggest that an age-targeted tax reform that eliminates payroll taxes for older workers would decrease the percentage of workers dropping out of the labor force by 1 percentage point, a 4% decrease.

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    File URL: http://www.mrrc.isr.umich.edu/publications/Papers/pdf/wp272.pdf
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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center in its series Working Papers with number wp272.

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    Length: 38 pages
    Date of creation: Sep 2012
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:mrr:papers:wp272

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    1. Heckman, James J, 1990. "Varieties of Selection Bias," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(2), pages 313-18, May.
    2. 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.
    3. Schafgans, Marcia M.A. & Zinde-Walsh, Victoria, 2002. "On Intercept Estimation In The Sample Selection Model," Econometric Theory, Cambridge University Press, vol. 18(01), pages 40-50, February.
    4. Francine D. Blau & Lawrence M. Kahn, 2007. "Changes in the Labor Supply Behavior of Married Women: 1980–2000," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 25, pages 393-438.
    5. Subbotin, Viktor, 2007. "Asymptotic and bootstrap properties of rank regressions," MPRA Paper 9030, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 20 Mar 2008.
    6. Singleton, Perry, 2011. "The Effect Of Taxes On Taxable Earnings: Evidence From The 2001 And Related U.S. Federal Tax Acts," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 64(2), pages 323-51, June.
    7. 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.
    8. Alexander M. Gelber & Joshua W. Mitchell, 2009. "Taxes and Time Allocation: Evidence from Single Women," NBER Working Papers 15583, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Daniel Feenberg & Elisabeth Coutts, 1993. "An introduction to the TAXSIM model," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 12(1), pages 189-194.
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