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Payroll Taxes and the Decision to be Self-Employed


  • Mark Stabile



This paper investigates and quantifies the role of payroll taxes in the decision to be self-employed. It examines the effects of introducing into the labour market a payroll tax which taxes employers, but which exempts the self-employed. It exploits two changes in the tax legislation to confirm that it is changes in legislation and not other sector specific trends that are driving the results. Our findings suggest that payroll taxes do indeed influence the decision to be self-employed, with the probability of self-employment increasing as taxes on employees increase and vice versa. Furthermore, there appear to be declines in the return to self-employment caused by the tax, possibly due to inefficient allocation of labour towards self-employment. Copyright Kluwer Academic Publishers 2004

Suggested Citation

  • Mark Stabile, 2004. "Payroll Taxes and the Decision to be Self-Employed," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 11(1), pages 31-53, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:itaxpf:v:11:y:2004:i:1:p:31-53 DOI: 10.1023/B:ITAX.0000004776.42301.76

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Michael Baker, 2002. "The Retirement Behavior of Married Couples: Evidence from the Spouse's Allowance," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 37(1), pages 1-34.
    2. Bruce, Donald, 2000. "Effects of the United States tax system on transitions into self-employment," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 7(5), pages 545-574, September.
    3. Jonathan Gruber & Alan B. Krueger, 1991. "The Incidence of Mandated Employer-Provided Insurance: Lessons from Workers' Compensation Insurance," NBER Chapters,in: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 5, pages 111-144 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Anderson, Patricia M. & Meyer, Bruce D., 1997. "The effects of firm specific taxes and government mandates with an application to the U.S. unemployment insurance program," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(2), pages 119-145, August.
    5. Gruber, Jonathan, 1997. "The Incidence of Payroll Taxation: Evidence from Chile," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(3), pages 72-101, July.
    6. repec:fth:prinin:279 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Schuetze, Herb J., 2000. "Taxes, economic conditions and recent trends in male self-employment: a Canada-US comparison," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 7(5), pages 507-544, September.
    8. Watson, Harry, 1985. "Tax evasion and labor markets," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 231-246, July.
    9. Baker, Michael & Benjamin, Dwayne, 1999. "Early Retirement Provisions and the Labor Force Behavior of Older Men: Evidence from Canada," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 17(4), pages 724-756, October.
    10. R. Glenn Hubbard & William M. Gentry, 2000. "Tax Policy and Entrepreneurial Entry," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(2), pages 283-287, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. Egebark, Johan, 2016. "Effects of taxes on youth self-employment and income," Working Paper Series 2016:4, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.
    2. Mina Baliamoune-Lutz & Pierre Garello, 2014. "Tax structure and entrepreneurship," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 42(1), pages 165-190, January.
    3. Mikael Stenkula, 2012. "Taxation and entrepreneurship in a welfare state," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 39(1), pages 77-97, July.
    4. Jean-François Wen & Daniel V. Gordon, 2014. "An Empirical Model of Tax Convexity and Self-Employment," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 96(3), pages 471-482, July.
    5. Kamhon Kan & Yen-Ling Lin, 2009. "The labor market effects of national health insurance: evidence from Taiwan," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 22(2), pages 311-350, April.
    6. repec:kap:sbusec:v:49:y:2017:i:4:d:10.1007_s11187-017-9857-7 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Simon C. Parker, 2010. "Contracting Out, Public Policy And Entrepreneurship," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 57(2), pages 119-144, May.
    8. Kadir Atalay & Woo-Yung Kim & Stephen Whelan, 2014. "The Decline of the Self-Employment Rate in Australia," Australian Economic Review, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, vol. 47(4), pages 472-489, December.
    9. Åsa Hansson, 2012. "Tax policy and entrepreneurship: empirical evidence from Sweden," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 38(4), pages 495-513, May.
    10. Maksim Belitski & Farzana Chowdhury & Sameeksha Desai, 2016. "Taxes, corruption, and entry," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 47(1), pages 201-216, June.

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