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A Microsimulation Approach to an Optimal Swedish Income Tax


  • Peter Ericson

    () (Empirica, Högbergsgatan 50, SE 118 26 Stockholm, Sweden)

  • Lennart Flood

    (School of Business, Economics and Law, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics)


The purpose of this paper is to identify a Swedish tax/benefit design that maximizes social welfare. A two stage process is proposed where individuals’ preferred choice of leisure and consumption is solved in the first stage, and the second stage identifies the tax/benefit system that maximizes the social welfare function. The study deviates from the mainstream literature as the first stage is based on a micro simulation model with estimated behavioural responses. We estimate a structural model for a sample of workers or voluntary non-workers that describes heterogeneity in consumption-leisure preferences for different household types. Models that describe the participation decision for the unemployed as well as individuals outside the labour force are also included. The results suggest that increased housing allowance, basic deduction, and in-work tax credit in combination with a reduction of the progressive national taxes would increase welfare.

Suggested Citation

  • Peter Ericson & Lennart Flood, 2012. "A Microsimulation Approach to an Optimal Swedish Income Tax," International Journal of Microsimulation, International Microsimulation Association, vol. 2(5), pages 2-21.
  • Handle: RePEc:ijm:journl:v:5:y:2012:i:2:p:2-21

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Lennart Flood & Jörgen Hansen & Roger Wahlberg, 2004. "Household Labor Supply and Welfare Participation in Sweden," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(4).
    2. François Bourguignon & Amedeo Spadaro, 2006. "Microsimulation as a tool for evaluating redistribution policies," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 4(1), pages 77-106, April.
    3. Jeffrey M. Wooldridge, 2005. "Simple solutions to the initial conditions problem in dynamic, nonlinear panel data models with unobserved heterogeneity," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 20(1), pages 39-54.
    4. Ericson, Peter & Flood, Lennart & Wahlberg, Roger, 2009. "SWEtaxben: A Swedish Tax/benefit Micro Simulation Model and an Evaluation of a Swedish Tax Reform," Working Papers in Economics 346, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
    5. repec:oup:restud:v:78:y::i:4:p:1490-1518 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Vermeulen, Frederic, 2002. " Collective Household Models: Principles and Main Results," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 16(4), pages 533-564, September.
    7. Seade, J. K., 1977. "On the shape of optimal tax schedules," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 7(2), pages 203-235, April.
    8. Aaberge, Rolf, 2001. "Axiomatic Characterization of the Gini Coefficient and Lorenz Curve Orderings," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 101(1), pages 115-132, November.
    9. Rolf Aaberge & Ugo Colombino, 2005. "Designing Optimal Taxes With a Microeconometric Model of Household Labour Supply," Public Economics 0510013, EconWPA.
    10. Lennart Flood & Roger Wahlberg & Elina Pylkkänen, 2007. "From Welfare to Work: Evaluating a Tax and Benefit Reform Targeted at Single Mothers in Sweden," LABOUR, CEIS, vol. 21(3), pages 443-471, September.
    11. Emmanuel Saez, 2002. "Optimal Income Transfer Programs: Intensive versus Extensive Labor Supply Responses," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(3), pages 1039-1073.
    12. Aaberge, Rolf & Flood, Lennart, 2008. "Evaluation of an In-Work Tax Credit Reform in Sweden: Effects on Labor Supply and Welfare Participation of Single Mothers," IZA Discussion Papers 3736, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    13. Slemrod, Joel, 1990. "Optimal Taxation and Optimal Tax Systems," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 4(1), pages 157-178, Winter.
    14. Richard Blundell & Andrew Shephard, 2012. "Employment, Hours of Work and the Optimal Taxation of Low-Income Families," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 79(2), pages 481-510.
    15. Flood, Lennart & Pylkkänen, Elina & Wahlberg, Roger, 2003. "From Welfare to Work: Evaluating a Proposed Tax and Benefit Reform Targeted at Single Mothers in Sweden," Working Papers in Economics 107, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
    16. Arthur van Soest, 1995. "Structural Models of Family Labor Supply: A Discrete Choice Approach," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 30(1), pages 63-88.
    17. Rolf Aaberge, 2000. "Characterizations of Lorenz curves and income distributions," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 17(4), pages 639-653.
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    Cited by:

    1. Laun, Lisa, 2012. "The E ffect of Age-Targeted Tax Credits on Retirement Behavior," Research Papers in Economics 2012:14, Stockholm University, Department of Economics.
    2. repec:eme:ceapzz:s0573-855520140000293006 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Creedy, John & Mok, Penny, 2017. "The Marginal welfare cost of personal income taxation in New Zealand," Working Paper Series 6557, Victoria University of Wellington, Chair in Public Finance.
    4. Lars-H. R. Siemers, 2014. "A General Microsimulation Model for the EU VAT with a specific Application to Germany," International Journal of Microsimulation, International Microsimulation Association, vol. 7(2), pages 40-93.
    5. Tim Goedemé & Karel Van den Bosch & Lina Salanauskaite & Gerlinde Verbist, 2013. "Testing the Statistical Significance of Microsimulation Results: A Plea," International Journal of Microsimulation, International Microsimulation Association, vol. 6(3), pages 50-77.
    6. John Creedy & Nicolas Hérault, 2011. "Decomposing Inequality and Social Welfare Changes: The Use of Alternative Welfare Metrics," Melbourne Institute Working Paper Series wp2011n08, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne.
    7. Olivier Bargain & André Decoster & Mathias Dolls & Dirk Neumann & Andreas Peichl & Sebastian Siegloch, 2013. "Welfare, labor supply and heterogeneous preferences: evidence for Europe and the US," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 41(4), pages 789-817, October.
    8. Stefan Boeters, 2013. "Optimal Tax Progressivity in Unionised Labour Markets: Simulation Results for Germany," Computational Economics, Springer;Society for Computational Economics, vol. 41(4), pages 447-474, April.
    9. repec:eee:pubeco:v:152:y:2017:i:c:p:102-118 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Goedemé, Tim & Van den Bosch, Karel & Salanauskaite, Lina & Verbist, Gerlinde, 2013. "Testing the statistical significance of microsimulation results: often easier than you think. A technical note," EUROMOD Working Papers EM18/13, EUROMOD at the Institute for Social and Economic Research.
    11. Creedy, John, 2013. "Alternative Distributions for Inequality and Poverty Comparisons," Working Paper Series 2851, Victoria University of Wellington, Chair in Public Finance.
    12. Rolf Aaberge & Ugo Colombino, 2014. "Labour Supply Models," Contributions to Economic Analysis,in: Handbook of Microsimulation Modelling, volume 127, pages 167-221 Emerald Publishing Ltd.

    More about this item


    Micro simulation; tax-benefit system; in-work tax credit reform; optimal taxation.;

    JEL classification:

    • C8 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Data Collection and Data Estimation Methodology; Computer Programs
    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • H24 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Personal Income and Other Nonbusiness Taxes and Subsidies


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