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35 years of reforms: A panel analysis of the incidence of, and employee and employer responses to, social security contributions in the UK

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  • Adam, Stuart
  • Phillips, David
  • Roantree, Barra

Abstract

We examine the effects of employee and employer social security contributions (SSCs) on labor cost, hours of work, and labor cost per hour, using a long running panel dataset that allows us to exploit 35 years of policy reforms in the United Kingdom. We find that reductions in marginal rates of employee – but not employer – SSCs have positive effects on labor cost that operate through hours of work, while labor cost falls much more when average employer SSCs rates are reduced than when average employee SSCs rates are reduced, with most of this differential effect coming through reductions in hourly labor cost. We interpret this as evidence that employees change their hours in response to SSCs, but that in the short- to medium-run at least, the formal incidence of SSCs can matter for their behavioral impacts and economic incidence.

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  • Adam, Stuart & Phillips, David & Roantree, Barra, 2019. "35 years of reforms: A panel analysis of the incidence of, and employee and employer responses to, social security contributions in the UK," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 171(C), pages 29-50.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:171:y:2019:i:c:p:29-50
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jpubeco.2018.05.010
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    Cited by:

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    2. Britton, Jack & Gruber, Jonathan, 2020. "Do income contingent student loans reduce labor supply?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 79(C).
    3. Kim, Jinyoung & Kim, Seonghoon & Koh, Kanghyock, 2021. "Labor Market Institutions and the Incidence of Payroll Taxation," IZA Discussion Papers 14321, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    4. Stuart Adam & James Browne & David Phillips & Barra Roantree, 2021. "Frictions and taxpayer responses: evidence from bunching at personal tax thresholds," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 28(3), pages 612-653, June.
    5. Matthias Collischon & Kamila Cygan-Rehm & Regina T. Riphahn, 2018. "Employment Effects of Payroll Tax Subsidies," CESifo Working Paper Series 7111, CESifo.
    6. Li, Lixing & Liu, Kevin Zhengcheng & Nie, Zhuo & Xi, Tianyang, 2021. "Evading by any means? VAT enforcement and payroll tax evasion in China," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 185(C), pages 770-784.
    7. Roantree, Barra & Kakoulidou, Theoni, 2021. "Options for raising tax revenue in Ireland," Papers BP2022/1, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).
    8. Stuart Adam & Barra Roantree & David Phillips, 2017. "The Incidence of Social Security Contributions in the United Kingdom: Evidence from Discontinuities at Contribution Ceilings," De Economist, Springer, vol. 165(2), pages 181-203, June.
    9. Almosova, Anna & Burda, Michael C. & Voigts, Simon, 2020. "Social Security Contributions and the Business Cycle," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 65(C).
    10. Matthias Collischon & Kamila Cygan-Rehm & Regina T. Riphahn, 2021. "Employment effects of payroll tax subsidies," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 57(3), pages 1201-1219, October.
    11. Nicole Bosch, 2019. "The Incidence of Pension Contributions," CPB Discussion Paper 388.rdf, CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis.
    12. José L. Torres, 2020. "Social Security Contributions Distribution and Economic Activity," Working Papers 2020-01, Universidad de Málaga, Department of Economic Theory, Málaga Economic Theory Research Center.
    13. Dorian Carloni, 2021. "Revisiting the Extent to Which Payroll Taxes Are Passed Through to Employees: Working Paper 2021-06," Working Papers 57089, Congressional Budget Office.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Social security contributions; Tax incidence; Labor supply; Labor demand; Taxable income elasticities;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • H22 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Incidence
    • H24 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Personal Income and Other Nonbusiness Taxes and Subsidies
    • H25 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Business Taxes and Subsidies
    • J20 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - General
    • J30 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - General

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