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Wage Subsidies for the Disadvantaged

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  • Lawrence F. Katz

Abstract

Wage subsidies to private employers have often been proposed by economists as a potentially flexible and efficient method to improve the earnings and employment of low-wage workers. This paper lays out the basic economics of wage subsidies; examines issues arising in the design of alternative forms of wage subsidies; and reviews evidence on the effectiveness of recent U.S. wage subsidy programs and demonstration projects. Wage subsidies to employers to hire disadvantaged workers appear to modestly raise the demand for labor for those workers. Stand-alone wage subsidies (or employment tax credits) that are highly targeted on very specific groups (such as welfare recipients) appear to have low utilization rates and may (in some cases) stigmatize the targeted group. But new evidence based on an examination of changes in eligibility rules for the Targeted Jobs Tax Credit, the major U.S. wage subsidy program for the economically disadvantaged from 1979 to 1994, suggests modest positive employment effects of the TJTC on economically disadvantaged young adults. Policies combining wage subsidies with job development, training, and job search assistance efforts appear to have been somewhat successful in improving the employment and earnings of specific targeted disadvantaged groups.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 5679.

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Date of creation: Jul 1996
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Publication status: published as Generating Jobs, Freeman, R. and P. Gottschalk, eds., New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 1998, pp. 21-53.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:5679

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  1. Robert J. LaLonde, 1995. "The Promise of Public Sector-Sponsored Training Programs," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 9(2), pages 149-168, Spring.
  2. Stephen H. Bell & Larry L. Orr, 1994. "Is Subsidized Employment Cost Effective for Welfare Recipients? Experimental Evidence from Seven State Demonstrations," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 29(1), pages 42-61.
  3. Couch, Kenneth A, 1992. "New Evidence on the Long-Term Effects of Employment Training Programs," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 10(4), pages 380-88, October.
  4. Richard B. Freeman, 1994. "Working Under Different Rules," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number free94-1.
  5. Alan Manning, 1994. "How do we Know that Real Wages are Too High?," CEP Discussion Papers dp0195, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  6. Woodbury, Stephen A & Spiegelman, Robert G, 1987. "Bonuses to Workers and Employers to Reduce Unemployment: Randomized Trials in Illinois," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(4), pages 513-30, September.
  7. James J. Heckman & Rebecca L. Roselius & Jeffrey A. Smith, 1993. "U.S. Education and Training Policy: A Re-evaluation of the Underlying Assumptions Behind the "New Consensus A Re-evaluation of the Underlying Assumptions Behind the "New Consensus"," Working Papers 9304, Harris School of Public Policy Studies, University of Chicago.
  8. Surendra Gera, 1987. "An Evaluation of the Canadian Employment Tax Credit Program," Canadian Public Policy, University of Toronto Press, vol. 13(2), pages 196-207, June.
  9. Lawrence F. Katz, 1994. "Active labor market policies to expand employment and opportunity," Proceedings - Economic Policy Symposium - Jackson Hole, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, issue Jan, pages 239-322.
  10. Carl Davidson & Stephen A. Woodbury, 1995. "Wage-Rate Subsidies for Dislocated Workers," Upjohn Working Papers and Journal Articles 95-31, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
  11. David Card, 1994. "Earnings, Schooling, and Ability Revisited," NBER Working Papers 4832, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Bruce D. Meyer, 1995. "Lessons from the U.S. Unemployment Insurance Experiments," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 33(1), pages 91-131, March.
  13. Edward C. Lorenz, 1995. "TJTC and the promise and reality of redistributive vouchering and tax credit policy," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 14(2), pages 270-290.
  14. David Card & Philip Robins, 1996. "Do Financial Incentives Encourage Welfare Recipients to Work? Early Findings from the Canadian Self Sufficiency Project," Working Papers 738, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  15. Moffitt, Robert, 1992. "Incentive Effects of the U.S. Welfare System: A Review," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 30(1), pages 1-61, March.
  16. Saul D. Hoffman & Laurence S. Seidman, 1990. "The Earned Income Tax Credit," Books from Upjohn Press, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, number eitc.
  17. Dubin, Jeffrey A. & Rivers, Douglas, 1993. "Experimental estimates of the impact of wage subsidies," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 56(1-2), pages 219-242, March.
  18. Gary Burtless, 1985. "Are targeted wage subsidies harmful? Evidence from a wage voucher experiment," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 39(1), pages 105-114, October.
  19. Dave M. O'Neill, 1982. "Employment Tax Credit Programs: The Effects of Socioeconomic Targeting Provisions," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 17(3), pages 449-459.
  20. Dale T. Mortensen, 1994. "Reducing supply-side disincentives to job creation," Proceedings - Economic Policy Symposium - Jackson Hole, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, issue Jan, pages 189-237.
  21. repec:fth:prinin:359 is not listed on IDEAS
  22. Kevin Hollenbeck & Richard J. Willke, 1991. "The Employment and Earnings Impacts of the Targeted Jobs Tax Credit," Upjohn Working Papers and Journal Articles 91-07, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
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