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

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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 Wilfrid Laurier University, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number eg0056.

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Length: 34
Date of creation: 2008
Date of revision: 2008
Handle: RePEc:wlu:wpaper:eg0056

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Keywords: Payroll Taxes; Shifting; Wage Rigidities; Minimum Wages;

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  1. 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, May.
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  7. 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.
  8. Adriana D. Kugler, 2004. "The Effect of Job Security Regulations on Labor Market Flexibility. Evidence from the Colombian Labor Market Reform," NBER Chapters, in: Law and Employment: Lessons from Latin America and the Caribbean, pages 183-228 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  12. Carlos Arango & Angélica Pachón, 2004. "Minimum Wages in Colombia: Holding the Middle with a Bite," BORRADORES DE ECONOMIA 003224, BANCO DE LA REPÚBLICA.
  13. 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.
  14. Gruber, Jonathan, 1994. "The Incidence of Mandated Maternity Benefits," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(3), pages 622-41, June.
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  16. 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.
  17. 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.
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  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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