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Earnings Adjustment Frictions: Evidence From Social Security Earnings Test

  • Alexander M. Gelber
  • Damon Jones
  • Daniel W. Sacks

We study frictions in adjusting earnings to changes in the Social Security Annual Earnings Test (AET) using a panel of Social Security Administration microdata on one percent of the U.S. population from 1961 to 2006. Individuals continue to "bunch" at the convex kink the AET creates even when they are no longer subject to the AET, consistent with the existence of earnings adjustment frictions in the U.S. We develop a novel framework for estimating an earnings elasticity and an adjustment cost using information on the amount of bunching at kinks before and after policy changes in earnings incentives around the kinks. We apply this method in settings in which individuals face changes in the AET bene.t reduction rate, and we estimate in a baseline case that the earnings elasticity with respect to the implicit net-of-tax share is 0.23, and the .xed cost of adjustment is $152.08.

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File URL: ftp://ftp2.census.gov/ces/wp/2013/CES-WP-13-50.pdf
File Function: First version, 2013
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Paper provided by Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau in its series Working Papers with number 13-50.

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Length: 88 pages
Date of creation: Sep 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cen:wpaper:13-50
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  1. Jeffrey Hoopes & Daniel Reck & Joel Slemrod, 2013. "Taxpayer Search for Information: Implications for Rational Attention," NBER Working Papers 19482, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Altonji, Joseph G & Paxson, Christina H, 1988. "Labor Supply Preferences, Hours Constraints, and Hours-Wage Trade-Offs," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 6(2), pages 254-76, April.
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  7. Bruce D. Meyer & Dan T. Rosenbaum, 1998. "Welfare, the Earned Income Tax Credit, and the Labor Supply of Single Mothers," JCPR Working Papers 32, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
  8. Jeffrey B. Liebman & Erzo F. P. Luttmer, 2015. "Would People Behave Differently If They Better Understood Social Security? Evidence from a Field Experiment," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 7(1), pages 275-99, February.
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  10. Raj Chetty, 2012. "Bounds on Elasticities With Optimization Frictions: A Synthesis of Micro and Macro Evidence on Labor Supply," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 80(3), pages 969-1018, 05.
  11. Henrik J. Kleven & Mazhar Waseem, 2013. "Using Notches to Uncover Optimization Frictions and Structural Elasticities: Theory and Evidence from Pakistan," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 128(2), pages 669-723.
  12. Emmanuel Saez & Joel Slemrod & Seth H. Giertz, 2012. "The Elasticity of Taxable Income with Respect to Marginal Tax Rates: A Critical Review," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 50(1), pages 3-50, March.
  13. Herbert A. Simon, 1955. "A Behavioral Model of Rational Choice," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 69(1), pages 99-118.
  14. Emmanuel Saez, 1999. "Do Taxpayers Bunch at Kink Points?," NBER Working Papers 7366, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Henrik Jacobsen Kleven & Martin B. Knudsen & Claus Thustrup Kreiner & Søren Pedersen & Emmanuel Saez, 2011. "Unwilling or Unable to Cheat? Evidence From a Tax Audit Experiment in Denmark," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 79(3), pages 651-692, 05.
  16. Kevin McKinney & Lars Vilhuber, 2011. "LEHD Infrastructure Files in the Census RDC: Overview of S2004 Snapshot," Working Papers 11-13, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  17. Cogan, John F, 1981. "Fixed Costs and Labor Supply," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 49(4), pages 945-63, June.
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