IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Taxation, Public Policy, and Dynamics of Unemployment


  • Joseph Stiglitz


This paper provides an overview of the key issues relating to taxation, public policy and the dynamics of unemployment.It takes issue with the widely held view that generous social insurance schemes and the associated highpayroll taxes have been the major cause of the high unemployment rates which have persisted in Europe over thepast 15 years. It puts forward a framework for a theory of adjustment, based on the portfolio theory of the riskaverse firm and the efficiency wage theory of labor markets. This is used to explain why in the onset of a downturn,the hiring rate may lag the layoff rate, thus giving rise to rising unemployment rates. It is also shown to provideguidance as to policies which enhance the ability of firms to bear risks and which reduce costs of hiring and firing.The paper argues that while policies which increase severance or layoff costs may be well intended they mayactually serve to exacerbate the magnitude of employment fluctuations. Similarly, unemployment compensation,which is designed to ease the burden on those who are unemployed, may lead to higher levels of equilibriumunemployment. These programs can be restructured in ways which simultaneously ease the short-run burden ofthose thrown into unemployment, while reducing the adverse impact of these programs on the unemployment rate. Copyright Kluwer Academic Publishers 1999

Suggested Citation

  • Joseph Stiglitz, 1999. "Taxation, Public Policy, and Dynamics of Unemployment," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 6(3), pages 239-262, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:itaxpf:v:6:y:1999:i:3:p:239-262
    DOI: 10.1023/A:1008778712160

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Stewart C. Myers & Nicholas S. Majluf, 1984. "Corporate Financing and Investment Decisions When Firms Have InformationThat Investors Do Not Have," NBER Working Papers 1396, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Myers, Stewart C. & Majluf, Nicholas S., 1984. "Corporate financing and investment decisions when firms have information that investors do not have," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(2), pages 187-221, June.
    3. Stiglitz, Joseph E., 1987. "Pareto efficient and optimal taxation and the new new welfare economics," Handbook of Public Economics,in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 15, pages 991-1042 Elsevier.
    4. Hansen, Gary D & Imrohoroglu, Ayse, 1992. "The Role of Unemployment Insurance in an Economy with Liquidity Constraints and Moral Hazard," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(1), pages 118-142, February.
    5. Wang, Cheng & Williamson, Stephen, 1996. "Unemployment insurance with moral hazard in a dynamic economy," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 44(1), pages 1-41, June.
    6. Atkeson Andrew & Lucas Jr. , Robert E., 1995. "Efficiency and Equality in a Simple Model of Efficient Unemployment Insurance," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 66(1), pages 64-88, June.
    7. Bruce C. Greenwald & Joseph E. Stiglitz, 1988. "Examining Alternative Macroeconomic Theories," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 19(1), pages 207-270.
    8. Myers, Stewart C. & Majluf, Nicolás S., 1945-, 1984. "Corporate financing and investment decisions when firms have information that investors do not have," Working papers 1523-84., Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management.
    9. Greenwald, Bruce C & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1995. "Labor-Market Adjustments and the Persistence of Unemployment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(2), pages 219-225, May.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Stiglitz, Joseph E. & Yun, Jungyoll, 2005. "Integration of unemployment insurance with retirement insurance," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(11-12), pages 2037-2067, December.
    2. Boone, Jan & Bovenberg, Lans, 2002. "Optimal labour taxation and search," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 85(1), pages 53-97, July.
    3. Riedl, Arno & van Winden, Frans, 2007. "An experimental investigation of wage taxation and unemployment in closed and open economies," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 51(4), pages 871-900, May.
    4. Wiepke Wissema & Rob Dellink, 2010. "AGE assessment of interactions between climate change policy instruments and pre-existing taxes: the case of Ireland," International Journal of Global Environmental Issues, Inderscience Enterprises Ltd, vol. 10(1/2), pages 46-62.
    5. Robin Boadway & Katherine Cuff & Nicolas Marceau, 1999. "Inter-Jurisdictional Competition for Firms: Jobs as Vehicles for Redistribution," Working Papers 986, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
    6. Boadway, Robin & Cuff, Katherine & Marceau, Nicolas, 2003. "Redistribution and employment policies with endogenous unemployment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(11), pages 2407-2430, October.
    7. Giuseppe Croce, 2015. "Il "welfare bilaterale" e i suoi effetti sull’occupazione," QUADERNI DI ECONOMIA DEL LAVORO, FrancoAngeli Editore, vol. 2015(103), pages 223-244.
    8. Alfonso ARPAIA & Giuseppe CARONE, "undated". "Do Labour Taxes (and their Composition) Affect Wages in the Short and the Long Run?," EcoMod2004 330600010, EcoMod.
    9. Riedl, Arno & van Winden, Frans, 2012. "Input versus output taxation in an experimental international economy," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 56(2), pages 216-232.
    10. Stiglitz, Joseph E., 2002. "New perspectives on public finance: recent achievements and future challenges," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 86(3), pages 341-360, December.
    11. Alfonso Arpaia & Giuseppe Carone, 2004. "Do labour taxes (and their composition) affect wages in the short and the long run? - Alfonso Arpaia and Giuseppe Carone," European Economy - Economic Papers 2008 - 2015 216, Directorate General Economic and Financial Affairs (DG ECFIN), European Commission.
    12. Goerke, Laszlo & Madsen, Jakob B., 2003. "Earnings-Related Unemployment Benefits in a Unionised Economy," IZA Discussion Papers 701, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    13. Eric Levin & Robert Wright, 2001. "Unemployment insurance, moral hazard, and economic growth," International Advances in Economic Research, Springer;International Atlantic Economic Society, vol. 7(4), pages 373-384, November.
    14. repec:kap:iaecre:v:7:y:2001:i:4:p:373-384 is not listed on IDEAS
    15. Kiander, Jaakko & Kilponen, Juha & Vilmunen, Jouko, 2000. "Taxes, Growth and Unemployment in the OECD Countries - Does Collective Bargaininig Matter?," Discussion Papers 235, VATT Institute for Economic Research.
    16. Goerke, Laszlo & Madsen, Jakob B., 2003. "Earnings-related unemployment benefits and unemployment," Economic Systems, Elsevier, vol. 27(1), pages 41-62, March.

    More about this item


    unemployment; taxation; public policy;


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:kap:itaxpf:v:6:y:1999:i:3:p:239-262. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Sonal Shukla) or (Rebekah McClure). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.