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Comparing Labor Supply Elasticities in Europe and the US: New Results

  • Olivier Bargain


    (Aix-Marseille University (Aix-Marseille School of Economics), CNRS & EHESS, and IZA)

  • Christina Orsini

    (U. of Leuven)

  • Andreas Peichl


    (IZA, U. of Cologne, CESifo and ISER)

We suggest the first large-scale international comparison of labor supply elasticities for 17 European countries and the US, separately by gender and marital status, with measurement differences netted out by using a harmonized empirical approach and comparable data sources. We find that own-wage elasticities are relatively small and much more uniform across countries than previously considered. Nonetheless, such differences do exist, and are found not to arise from different tax-benefit systems, wage/hour level or demographic compositions across countries, suggesting genuine differences in work preferences across countries. Furthermore, three other important results for welfare analysis are consistent across countries: the extensive (participation) margin dominates the intensive (hours) margin; for singles, this leads to larger labor supply responses in low-income groups; and income elasticities are extremely small everywhere. Finally, the results for cross-wage elasticities in couples are opposed between regions, consistent with complementarity in spouses' leisure in the US versus substitution in their household production in Europe.

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Paper provided by Aix-Marseille School of Economics, Marseille, France in its series AMSE Working Papers with number 1321.

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Length: 66 pages
Date of creation: Mar 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:aim:wpaimx:1321
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