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Why do Americans work so much more than Europeans?

  • Edward C. Prescott

Americans now work 50 percent more than do the Germans, French, and Italians. This was not the case in the early 1970s, when the Western Europeans worked more than Americans. This article examines the role of taxes in accounting for the differences in labor supply across time and across countries; in particular, the effective marginal tax rate on labor income. The population of countries considered is the G-7 countries, which are major advanced industrial countries. The surprising finding is that this marginal tax rate accounts for the predominance of differences at points in time and the large change in relative labor supply over time.

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Article provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis in its journal Quarterly Review.

Volume (Year): (2004)
Issue (Month): Jul ()
Pages: 2-13

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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedmqr:y:2004:i:jul:p:2-13:n:v.28no.1
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  1. Davis, Steven J. & Henrekson, Magnus, 2004. "Tax Effects on Work Activity, Industry Mix and Shadow Economy Size: Evidence from Rich-Country Comparisons," SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance 560, Stockholm School of Economics.
  2. Mendoza, Enrique G. & Razin, Assaf & Tesar, Linda L., 1994. "Effective tax rates in macroeconomics: Cross-country estimates of tax rates on factor incomes and consumption," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(3), pages 297-323, December.
  3. Conesa, Juan Carlos & Garriga, Carlos, 2003. "Status Quo Problem In Social Security Reforms," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 7(05), pages 691-710, November.
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  5. Lawrence J. Christiano & Martin Eichenbaum, 1990. "Current real business cycle theories and aggregate labor market fluctuations," Discussion Paper / Institute for Empirical Macroeconomics 24, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  6. Stephen Nickell, 2003. "Employment and Taxes," CESifo Working Paper Series 1109, CESifo Group Munich.
  7. 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.
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  9. Ellen R. McGrattan & Edward C. Prescott, 2001. "Is the Stock Market Overvalued?," NBER Working Papers 8077, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Olovsson, Conny, 2004. "Why do Europeans Work so Little?," Seminar Papers 727, Stockholm University, Institute for International Economic Studies.
  11. Lucas, Robert E, Jr & Rapping, Leonard A, 1969. "Real Wages, Employment, and Inflation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 77(5), pages 721-54, Sept./Oct.
  12. Patrick J. Kehoe & Ellen R. McGrattan, 2002. "Accounting for the Great Depression," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(2), pages 22-27, May.
  13. Gary Hansen, 2010. "Indivisible Labor and the Business Cycle," Levine's Working Paper Archive 233, David K. Levine.
  14. Finn E. Kydland & Carlos E.J.M. Zarazaga, 2001. "Argentina's lost decade," Center for Latin America Working Papers 0401, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.
  15. Baxter, Marianne & King, Robert G, 1993. "Fiscal Policy in General Equilibrium," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(3), pages 315-34, June.
  16. Lucas, Robert Jr., 1972. "Expectations and the neutrality of money," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 4(2), pages 103-124, April.
  17. Finn E. Kydland & Carlos E. J. M. Zarazaga, 2002. "Online Appendix to Argentina's Lost Decade and the Subsequent Recovery Puzzle," Technical Appendices kydland02, Review of Economic Dynamics.
  18. Kydland, Finn E & Prescott, Edward C, 1982. "Time to Build and Aggregate Fluctuations," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(6), pages 1345-70, November.
  19. Timothy J. Kehoe & Edward C. Prescott (), 2007. "Great depressions of the twentieth century," Monograph, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, number 2007gdott.
  20. Harold L. Cole & Lee E. Ohanian, 1999. "The Great Depression in the United States from a neoclassical perspective," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Win, pages 2-24.
  21. Timothy Kehoe & Edward Prescott, 2002. "Data Appendix to Great Depressions of the Twentieth Century," Technical Appendices kehoe02, Review of Economic Dynamics.
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