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Employee Stock Purchase Plans

Listed author(s):
  • Engelhardt, Gary V.
  • Madrian, Brigitte C.

Employee stock purchase plans (ESPPs) are designed to promote employee stock ownership broadly within the firm and provide another tax–deferred vehicle for individual capital accumulation in addition to traditional pensions, 401(k)s, and stock options. We outline the individual and corporate tax treatment of ESPPs and the circumstances under which ESPPs will be preferred to cash compensation from a purely tax perspective. We then examine empirically ESPP participation using administrative data from 1997–2001 for a large health services company that employs approximately 30,000 people. The picture that emerges from the analysis of these data suggests that there is substantial non–participation in these plans even though all employees could increase gross compensation through participation. We discuss a number of potential explanations for non–participation.

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Article provided by National Tax Association in its journal National Tax Journal.

Volume (Year): 57 (2004)
Issue (Month): 2 (June)
Pages: 385-406

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Handle: RePEc:ntj:journl:v:57:y:2004:i:2:p:385-406
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  1. Diamond, Peter & Koszegi, Botond, 2003. "Quasi-hyperbolic discounting and retirement," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(9-10), pages 1839-1872, September.
  2. O'Donoghue, Ted & Rabin, Matthew, 1997. "Doing It Now or Later," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt7t44m5b0, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  3. Brigitte C. Madrian & Dennis F. Shea, 2000. "The Power of Suggestion: Inertia in 401(k) Participation and Savings Behavior," NBER Working Papers 7682, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Engelhardt, Gary V. & Kumar, Anil, 2007. "Employer matching and 401(k) saving: Evidence from the health and retirement study," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(10), pages 1920-1943, November.
  5. Gary V. Engelhardt, 1996. "Tax Subsidies and Household Saving: Evidence from Canada," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 111(4), pages 1237-1268.
  6. David I. Laibson & Andrea Repetto & Jeremy Tobacman, 1998. "Self-Control and Saving for Retirement," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 29(1), pages 91-196.
  7. Milligan, Kevin, 2003. "How do contribution limits affect contributions to tax-preferred savings accounts?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(2), pages 253-281, February.
  8. Michael R. Veall, 1999. "Did Tax Flattening Affect RRSP Contributions?," Department of Economics Working Papers 1999-04, McMaster University.
  9. Kevin Milligan, 2002. "Tax-preferred savings accounts and marginal tax rates: evidence on RRSP participation," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 35(3), pages 436-456, August.
  10. Brian J. Hall & Jeffrey B. Liebman, 2000. "The Taxation of Executive Compensation," NBER Chapters, in: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 14, pages 1-44 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Engelhardt, Gary V., 1994. "Tax Subsidies to Saving for Home Purchase: Evidence From Canadian RHOSPs," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 47(2), pages 363-388, June.
  12. John Yinger, 1998. "Evidence on Discrimination in Consumer Markets," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 12(2), pages 23-40, Spring.
  13. James M. Poterba, 2003. "Employer Stock and 401(k) Plans," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(2), pages 398-404, May.
  14. Zvi Bodie & John B. Shoven & David A. Wise, 1988. "Pensions in the U.S. Economy," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number bodi88-1.
  15. Steven F. Venti & David A. Wise, 1988. "The Determinants of IRA Contributions and the Effect of Limit Changes," NBER Chapters, in: Pensions in the U.S. Economy, pages 9-52 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. J. Nellie Liang & Scott Weisbenner, 2002. "Investor behavior and the purchase of company stock in 401(k) plans - the importance of plan design," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2002-36, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  17. Ted O'Donoghue & Matthew Rabin, 1997. "Incentives for Procrastinators," Discussion Papers 1181, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  18. Helen F. Ladd, 1998. "Evidence on Discrimination in Mortgage Lending," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 12(2), pages 41-62, Spring.
  19. repec:ntj:journl:v:47:y:1994:i:no._2:p:363-88 is not listed on IDEAS
  20. Donald Cox, 1990. "Intergenerational Transfers and Liquidity Constraints," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 105(1), pages 187-217.
  21. Olivia S. Mitchell & Stephen P. Utkus, 2002. "The Role of Company Stock in Defined Contribution Plans," NBER Working Papers 9250, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  22. Murphy, Kevin J., 1999. "Executive compensation," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 38, pages 2485-2563 Elsevier.
  23. Kerwin Kofi Charles & Erik Hurst, 2002. "The Transition To Home Ownership And The Black-White Wealth Gap," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 84(2), pages 281-297, May.
  24. Cunningham, Christopher R. & Engelhardt, Gary V., 2002. "Federal Tax Policy, Employer Matching, and 401(K) Saving: Evidence From HRS W-2 Records," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 55(3), pages 617-645, September.
  25. 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.
  26. Nellie Liang & Scott Weisbenner, 2002. "Investor Behavior and the Purchase of Company Stock in 401(k) Plans - The Importance of Plan Design," NBER Working Papers 9131, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  27. Tullio Jappelli, 1990. "Who is Credit Constrained in the U. S. Economy?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 105(1), pages 219-234.
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