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Income Taxes, Compensating Differentials, and Occupational Choice: How Taxes Distort the Wage-Amenity Decision

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  • David Powell
  • Hui Shan

Abstract

The link between taxes and occupational choices is central for understanding the welfare impacts of income taxes. Just as taxes distort the labor-leisure decision, they may also distort the wage-amenity decision. Yet, there have been few studies on the full response along this margin. When tax rates increase, workers favor jobs with lower wages and more amenities. We introduce a two-step methodology which uses compensating differentials to characterize the tax elasticity of occupational choice. We estimate a significant compensated elasticity of 0.03, implying that a 10 percent increase in the net-oftax rate causes workers to change to a 0.3 percent higher wage job. (JEL H24, H31, J22, J24, J31)

Suggested Citation

  • David Powell & Hui Shan, 2012. "Income Taxes, Compensating Differentials, and Occupational Choice: How Taxes Distort the Wage-Amenity Decision," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 4(1), pages 224-247, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aejpol:v:4:y:2012:i:1:p:224-47
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/pol.4.1.224
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Martin Feldstein, 1999. "Tax Avoidance And The Deadweight Loss Of The Income Tax," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 81(4), pages 674-680, November.
    2. David Albouy, 2009. "The Unequal Geographic Burden of Federal Taxation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 117(4), pages 635-667, August.
    3. Gruber, Jon & Saez, Emmanuel, 2002. "The elasticity of taxable income: evidence and implications," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(1), pages 1-32, April.
    4. Gruber, Jonathan & Lettau, Michael, 2004. "How elastic is the firm's demand for health insurance?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(7-8), pages 1273-1293, July.
    5. Duncan, Greg J & Stafford, Frank P, 1980. "Do Union Members Receive Compensating Wage Differentials?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 70(3), pages 355-371, June.
    6. Hersch, Joni, 1998. "Compensating Differentials for Gender-Specific Job Injury Risks," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(3), pages 598-627, June.
    7. Eissa, Nada & Hoynes, Hilary Williamson, 2004. "Taxes and the labor market participation of married couples: the earned income tax credit," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(9-10), pages 1931-1958, August.
    8. Garen, John, 1988. "Compensating Wage Differentials and the Endogeneity of Job Riskiness," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 70(1), pages 9-16, February.
    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.
    10. Currie, Janet & Gruber, Jonathan, 1996. "Saving Babies: The Efficacy and Cost of Recent Changes in the Medicaid Eligibility of Pregnant Women," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(6), pages 1263-1296, December.
    11. David Powell, 2010. "Heterogeneity in Income Tax Incidence: Are the Wages of Dangerous Jobs More Responsive to Tax Changes than the Wages of Safe Jobs?," Working Papers 706-1, RAND Corporation.
    12. Kostiuk, Peter F, 1990. "Compensating Differentials for Shift Work," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(5), pages 1054-1075, October.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Alpert, Abby & Powell, David, 2014. "Estimating Intensive and Extensive Tax Responsiveness: Do Older Workers Respond to Income Taxes?," Working Papers 987-1, RAND Corporation.
    2. Abby Alpert & David Powell, 2014. "Estimating Intensive and Extensive Tax Responsiveness Do Older Workers Respond to Income Taxes?," Working Papers WR-987-1, RAND Corporation.
    3. Abby Alpert & David Powell, 2012. "Tax Elasticity of Labor Earnings for Older Individuals," Working Papers wp272, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
    4. Ingo E. Isphording, 2010. "Risky Business – The Role of Individual Risk Attitudes in Occupational Choice," Ruhr Economic Papers 0187, Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Universität Dortmund, Universität Duisburg-Essen.
    5. Christian Keuschnigg & Thomas Davoine, 2010. "Flexicurity and Job Reallocation," University of St. Gallen Department of Economics working paper series 2010 2010-11, Department of Economics, University of St. Gallen.
    6. Isphording, Ingo E., 2010. "Risky Business – The Role of Individual Risk Attitudes in Occupational Choice," Ruhr Economic Papers 187, RWI - Leibniz-Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-University Bochum, TU Dortmund University, University of Duisburg-Essen.
    7. David Powell, 2012. "Compensating Differentials and Income Taxes: Are the Wages of Dangerous Jobs More Responsive to Tax Changes than the Wages of Safe Jobs?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 47(4), pages 1023-1054.
    8. repec:zbw:rwirep:0187 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Thomas Davoine & Christian Keuschnigg, 2015. "Flexicurity, Taxes and Job Reallocation," CESifo Working Paper Series 5302, CESifo Group Munich.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H24 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Personal Income and Other Nonbusiness Taxes and Subsidies
    • H31 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - Household
    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials

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    1. Income Taxes, Compensating Differentials, and Occupational Choice: How Taxes Distort the Wage-Amenity Decision (AEJ:EP 2012) in ReplicationWiki

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