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Tax Smoothing in Frictional Labor Markets

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  • Sanjay K. Chugh

    (University of Maryland)

  • David M. Arseneau

    (Federal Reserve Board)

Abstract

We re-examine the optimality of tax smoothing from the point of view of frictional labor markets. Our central result is that whether or not this cornerstone optimal fiscal policy prescription carries over to an environment with labor market frictions depends crucially on the cyclical nature of labor force participation. If the participation rate is exogenous at business-cycle frequencies --- as is typically assumed in the literature --- we show it is not optimal to smooth tax rates on labor income in the face of business-cycle shocks. However, if households do optimize at the participation margin, then tax-smoothing is optimal despite the presence of matching frictions. To understand these results, we develop a concept of general-equilibrium efficiency in search-based environments, which builds on existing (partial-equilibrium) search-efficiency conditions. Using this concept, we develop a notion of search-based labor-market wedges that allows us to trace the source of the sharply-contrasting fiscal policy prescriptions to the value of adjusting participation rates. Our results demonstrate that policy prescriptions can be very sensitive to the cyclical nature of labor-force participation in search-based environments.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Society for Economic Dynamics in its series 2009 Meeting Papers with number 202.

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Date of creation: 2009
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Handle: RePEc:red:sed009:202

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  1. S. Rao Aiyagari & Albert Marcet & Thomas J. Sargent & Juha Seppala, 2002. "Optimal Taxation without State-Contingent Debt," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(6), pages 1220-1254, December.
  2. Krause, Michael U. & Lopez-Salido, David & Lubik, Thomas A., 2008. "Inflation dynamics with search frictions: A structural econometric analysis," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(5), pages 892-916, July.
  3. Ohanian, Lee & Raffo, Andrea & Rogerson, Richard, 2008. "Long-term changes in labor supply and taxes: Evidence from OECD countries, 1956-2004," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(8), pages 1353-1362, November.
  4. David M. Arseneau & Sanjay K. Chugh, 2006. "Ramsey Meets Hosios: The Optimal Capital Tax and Labor Market Efficiency," 2006 Meeting Papers 568, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  5. Kydland, Finn E & Prescott, Edward C, 1982. "Time to Build and Aggregate Fluctuations," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(6), pages 1345-70, November.
  6. Lars Ljungqvist & Thomas J. Sargent, 2004. "Recursive Macroeconomic Theory, 2nd Edition," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 2, volume 1, number 026212274x, January.
  7. Arseneau, David M. & Chugh, Sanjay K., 2008. "Optimal fiscal and monetary policy with costly wage bargaining," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(8), pages 1401-1414, November.
  8. Andolfatto, David, 1996. "Business Cycles and Labor-Market Search," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(1), pages 112-32, March.
  9. Faia, Ester, 2006. "Optimal monetary policy rules with labor market frictions," Working Paper Series 0698, European Central Bank.
  10. Krause, Michael & Lubik, Thomas A., 2007. "Does intra-firm bargaining matter for business cycle dynamics?," Discussion Paper Series 1: Economic Studies 2007,17, Deutsche Bundesbank, Research Centre.
  11. Shi, Shouyong & Wen, Quan, 1999. "Labor market search and the dynamic effects of taxes and subsidies," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(2), pages 457-495, April.
  12. Sanjay K. Chugh & Andre Kurmann & David M. Arseneau, 2009. "Optimal Capital Taxation in an Economy with Capital Allocation Frictions," 2009 Meeting Papers 147, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  13. Christopher A. Pissarides, 2000. "Equilibrium Unemployment Theory, 2nd Edition," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262161877, January.
  14. Siu, Henry E., 2004. "Optimal fiscal and monetary policy with sticky prices," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(3), pages 575-607, April.
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