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Iceland's Natural Experiment in Supply-Side Economics


  • Bianchi, Marco
  • Gudmundsson, Björn R
  • Zoega, Gylfi


The move to a pay-as-you-earn income tax system in Iceland in 1987-1988 made income earned in 1987 tax-free. Using a sample of 9,274 individuals for the years 1986, 1987 and 1988, we calculate the labour-supply response of this change and find that total labour supply rose by 6.7% in 1987 over the average of 1986 and 1988 when we correct for entry in 1988. This consists of an 8.6% increase in weeks supplied by those already in the labour market in 1986 and a 1.9% decline due to entry/exit. The elasticity of weeks worked to the rise in after-tax wages was 0.41 for men and 0.11 for women. While the participation rate of women increased somewhat in our sample, participation by men fell.

Suggested Citation

  • Bianchi, Marco & Gudmundsson, Björn R & Zoega, Gylfi, 2000. "Iceland's Natural Experiment in Supply-Side Economics," CEPR Discussion Papers 2367, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:2367

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Fullerton, Don, 1982. "On the possibility of an inverse relationship between tax rates and government revenues," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(1), pages 3-22, October.
    2. Jerry A. Hausman, 1983. "Stochastic Problems in the Simulation of Labor Supply," NBER Chapters,in: Behavioral Simulation Methods in Tax Policy Analysis, pages 47-82 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Feldstein, Martin, 1986. "Supply Side Economics: Old Truths and New Claims," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(2), pages 26-30, May.
    4. Nada Eissa & Jeffrey B. Liebman, 1996. "Labor Supply Response to the Earned Income Tax Credit," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 111(2), pages 605-637.
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    Cited by:

    1. Hian Teck Hoon, 2009. "Payroll Taxes, Wealth and Employment in Neoclassical Theory: Neutrality or Non-neutrality?," Working Papers 08-2009, Singapore Management University, School of Economics.
    2. Petri Böckerman & Markus Jäntti, 2005. "Is Variation in Hours of Work Driven by Supply or Demand? Evidence from Finnish Manufacturing Industries," Labor and Demography 0505012, EconWPA.
    3. Raj Chetty & Adam Guren & Day Manoli & Andrea Weber, 2013. "Does Indivisible Labor Explain the Difference between Micro and Macro Elasticities? A Meta-Analysis of Extensive Margin Elasticities," NBER Macroeconomics Annual, University of Chicago Press, vol. 27(1), pages 1-56.
    4. Ólafsdóttir, Thorhildur & Hrafnkelsson, Birgir & Thorgeirsson, Gudmundur & Ásgeirsdóttir, Tinna Laufey, 2016. "The tax-free year in Iceland: A natural experiment to explore the impact of a short-term increase in labor supply on the risk of heart attacks," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(C), pages 14-27.
    5. Andrés Erosa & Luisa Fuster & Gueorgui Kambourov, 2016. "Towards a Micro-Founded Theory of Aggregate Labour Supply," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 83(3), pages 1001-1039.
    6. Charles Whalen & Felix Reichling, 2017. "Estimates of the Frisch Elasticity of Labor Supply: A Review," Eastern Economic Journal, Palgrave Macmillan;Eastern Economic Association, vol. 43(1), pages 37-42, January.
    7. 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, May.
    8. Gilles Le Garrec & Vincent Touzé, 2016. "Prélèvement à la source de l'impot sur le revenu et année de transition : quel impact pour les finances publiques et l'équité fiscale ?," Documents de Travail de l'OFCE 2016-28, Observatoire Francais des Conjonctures Economiques (OFCE).
    9. Raj Chetty & Adam Guren & Day Manoli & Andrea Weber, 2011. "Are Micro and Macro Labor Supply Elasticities Consistent? A Review of Evidence on the Intensive and Extensive Margins," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(3), pages 471-475, May.

    More about this item


    Labour Supply; Supply-Side Economics;

    JEL classification:

    • E65 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Studies of Particular Policy Episodes
    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply


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