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Labour Taxation and Foreign Direct Investment

  • Peter Egger
  • Doina Maria Radulescu

This paper analyzes the implications of effective taxation of labor for profits and, hence, the location decision of a multinational enterprise. We set up a stylized partial equilibrium model and, presuming that worker effort is a function of net wages, assume that a higher employee-borne tax burden reduces effort. In turn, this raises a firm’s production costs and reduces efficiency. Accordingly, we show that a higher employee-borne income tax negatively influences a multinational’s profit by reducing manager effort. Furthermore, we compile data on personal income tax profiles for 49 economies and the year 2002. We decompose tax profiles into the component borne by employers and that borne by employees. We then determine effective tax rates for employees across four centiles of the distribution of gross wages: 33, 100, 167, and 500 percent of the average, following the OECD’s Taxing Wages Approach. Apart from describing features of the personal income tax data, we use them to shed light on their role for bilateral foreign direct investment (FDI) stocks among the economies considered. Not surprisingly, personal income tax rates turn out relatively less important than profit tax rates for bilateral FDI stocks. The employee-borne part of labor taxes determines bilateral FDI significantly different from zero: both a higher employee-borne tax rate on average wages and, in particular, an increase in the progression from the average wage to five times the average wage is less conducive to headquarters location and, hence, reduces a country’s bilateral outward FDI stocks.

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Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 2309.

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Date of creation: 2008
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_2309
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  1. Joao Santos Silva & Silvana Tenreyro, 2005. "The log of gravity," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 3744, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  2. Becker, Sascha O. & Ekholm, Karolina & Jäckle, Robert & Mündler, Marc-Andreas, 2005. "Location choice and employment decisions: a comparison of German and Swedish multinationals," Discussion Paper Series 1: Economic Studies 2005,08, Deutsche Bundesbank, Research Centre.
  3. Pisauro, Giuseppe, 1991. "The effect of taxes on labour in efficiency wage models," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(3), pages 329-345, December.
  4. Eckard Janeba, . "Tax Competition in Imperfectly Competitive Markets," Discussion Paper Serie A 513, University of Bonn, Germany.
  5. Michael Devereux & Rachel Griffith, 1996. "Taxes and the location of production: evidence from a panel of US multinationals," IFS Working Papers W96/14, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  6. James R. Markusen, 2004. "Multinational Firms and the Theory of International Trade," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262633078, June.
  7. Lawrence M. Kahn & Peter D. Sherer, 1990. "Contingent pay and managerial performance," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 43(3), pages 107-120, February.
  8. Canice Prendergast, 1996. "What Happens Within Firms? A Survey of Empirical Evidence on Compensation Policies," NBER Working Papers 5802, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Michael P. Devereux & R. Glenn Hubbard, 2000. "Taxing Multinationals," NBER Working Papers 7920, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Edward P. Lazear, 2000. "Performance Pay and Productivity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(5), pages 1346-1361, December.
  11. Ronald G. Ehrenberg & Michael L. Bognanno, 1990. "The incentive effects of tournaments revisited: Evidence from the European PGA tour," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 43(3), pages 74-88, February.
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