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Assessing Empirical Approaches for Analyzing Taxes and Labor Supply

Author

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  • Thomas MaCurdy
  • David Green
  • Harry Paarsch

Abstract

Recent surveys on the labor-supply responses of men document a divergence in the estimates of substitution and income effects obtained using various estimation approaches. Generally, studies accounting for nonlinear tax schedules in a static setting via a piecewise-linear approach produce estimates that typically imply higher substitution and lower income responses than are suggested by empirical work applying other approaches. This paper demonstrates that maximum likelihood estimation of a consumer-choice problem with nonlinear budget sets implicitly relies on the satisfaction of inequality constraints that translate into behaviorally meaningful restrictions. These constraints arise not as a consequence of economic theory, but instead as a requirement to create a properly defined statistical model. In the analysis of piecewise-linear budget sets, the implicit constraints required by maximum likelihood in estimation amount to imposition of Slutsky conditions at all wage-income combinations associated with kink points. In the analysis of differentiable budget sets, the tacit constraints invoked by maximum likelihood also involve inequality restrictions on Slutsky terms. The empirical work presented in this study supports the contention that these implicit constraints play a major role in explaining the discrepancies in estimates found in the literature on men's labor supply.

Suggested Citation

  • Thomas MaCurdy & David Green & Harry Paarsch, 1990. "Assessing Empirical Approaches for Analyzing Taxes and Labor Supply," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 25(3), pages 415-490.
  • Handle: RePEc:uwp:jhriss:v:25:y:1990:i:3:p:415-490
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Davidson, Carl & Woodbury, Stephen A, 1993. "The Displacement Effect of Reemployment Bonus Programs," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 11(4), pages 575-605, October.
    2. Woodbury, Stephen A & Spiegelman, Robert G, 1987. "Bonuses to Workers and Employers to Reduce Unemployment: Randomized Trials in Illinois," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, pages 513-530.
    3. Paul T. Decker & Christopher J. L'Leary, 1995. "Evaluating Pooled Evidence from the Reemployment Bonus Experiments," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 30(3), pages 534-550.
    4. Woodbury, Stephen A & Spiegelman, Robert G, 1987. "Bonuses to Workers and Employers to Reduce Unemployment: Randomized Trials in Illinois," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, pages 513-530.
    5. Christopher J. O'Leary & Robert G. Spiegelman & Kenneth J. Kline, 1995. "Do bonus offers shorten unemployment insurance spells? results from the washington experiment," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 14(2), pages 245-269.
    6. Walter Corson & Paul T. Decker & Shari Miller Dunstan & Anne R. Gordon, "undated". "The New Jersey Unemployment Insurance Reemployment Demonstration Project: Final Evaluation Report," Mathematica Policy Research Reports a1188b0b75ad4085ab98457be, Mathematica Policy Research.
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    9. Robert B. Olsen & Marisa Kelso & Paul T. Decker & Daniel H. Klepinger, 2002. "Predicting the Exhaustion of Unemployment Compensation," Mathematica Policy Research Reports d0a9027f813a4bc397fce1190, Mathematica Policy Research.
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