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Labor Market Effects of Payroll Taxes in Developing Countries: Evidence from Colombia

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  • Adriana Kugler
  • Maurice Kugler

Abstract

We use a panel of manufacturing plants from Colombia to analyze how the rise in payroll tax rates over the 1980s and 1990s affected the labor market. Our estimates indicate that formal wages fall by between 1.4% and 2.3% as a result of a 10% rise in payroll taxes. This "less-than-full-shifting" is likely to be the result of weak linkages between benefits and taxes and the presence of downward wage rigidities in Colombia. Because the costs of taxation are only partly shifted from employers to employees, employment also falls. Our results indicate that a 10% increase in payroll taxes lowered formal employment by between 4% and 5%. In addition, we find some evidence of less shifting and larger disemployment effects for production than for non-production workers. These results suggest that policies aimed at boosting the relative demand of less-skill workers by reducing social security taxes may be effective in Latin American countries, where minimum wages bind and benefits are often not directly linked to contributions.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 13855.

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Date of creation: Mar 2008
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Publication status: published as Adriana Kugler & Maurice Kugler, 2009. "Labor Market Effects of Payroll Taxes in Developing Countries: Evidence from Colombia ," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 57(2), pages 335-358, 01.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13855

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  1. Adriana Kugler, 1999. "The Impact of Firing Costs on Turnover and Unemployment: Evidence from the Colombian Labour Market Reform," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 6(3), pages 389-410, August.
  2. MacIsaac, Donna & Rama, Martin, 1997. "Determinants of Hourly Earnings in Ecuador: The Role of Labor Market Regulations," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(3), pages S136-65, July.
  3. Daniel S. Hamermesh, 2004. "Labor Demand in Latin America and the Caribbean. What Does It Tell Us?," NBER Chapters, in: Law and Employment: Lessons from Latin America and the Caribbean, pages 553-562 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Gruber, Jonathan, 1994. "The Incidence of Mandated Maternity Benefits," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(3), pages 622-41, June.
  5. Kugler, Adriana D., 2005. "Wage-shifting effects of severance payments savings accounts in Colombia," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(2-3), pages 487-500, February.
  6. Fajnzylber, Pablo & Maloney, William F., 2000. "Labor demand andtrade reform in Latin America," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2491, The World Bank.
  7. Indermit S. Gill & Truman Packard & Juan Yermo, 2005. "Keeping the Promise of Social Security in Latin America," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 7391.
  8. Maloney, William F., 2004. "Informality Revisited," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 32(7), pages 1159-1178, July.
  9. Nickell, Stephen & Layard, Richard, 1999. "Labor market institutions and economic performance," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 46, pages 3029-3084 Elsevier.
  10. Bosch, Mariano & Goni, Edwin & Maloney, William, 2007. "The determinants of rising informality in Brazil : Evidence from gross worker flows," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4375, The World Bank.
  11. James J. Heckman & Carmen Pagés, 2004. "Law and Employment: Lessons from Latin America and the Caribbean," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number heck04-1.
  12. Adriana Kugler, 2004. "The Effect of Job Security Regulations on Labor Market Flexibility: Evidence from the Colombian Labor Market Reform," NBER Working Papers 10215, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Robert J. Gordon, 1972. "Wage-Price Controls and the Shifting Phillips Curve," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 3(2), pages 385-430.
  14. Edwards, Sebastian & Edwards, Alejandra Cox, 2002. "Social Security Privatization and Labor Markets: The Case of Chile," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 50(3), pages 465-89, April.
  15. Jonathan Gruber, 1995. "The Incidence of Payroll Taxation: Evidence from Chile," NBER Working Papers 5053, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Maloney, William F, 1999. "Does Informality Imply Segmentation in Urban Labor Markets? Evidence from Sectoral Transitions in Mexico," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 13(2), pages 275-302, May.
  17. Shapiro, Carl & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1984. "Equilibrium Unemployment as a Worker Discipline Device," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(3), pages 433-44, June.
  18. Carlos Arango & Angélica Pachón, 2004. "Minimum Wages in Colombia: Holding the Middle with a Bite," BORRADORES DE ECONOMIA 003224, BANCO DE LA REPÚBLICA.
  19. Indermit S. Gill & Truman G. Packard & Juan Yermo, . "Keeping the Promise of Social Security in Latin America," IDB Publications 59998, Inter-American Development Bank.
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