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Social Desirability of Earning Tests

  • Cremer, Helmuth
  • Lozachmeur, Jean-Marie
  • Pestieau, Pierre

In many countries pension systems involve some form of earnings test; i.e., an individual’s benefits are reduced if he has labour income. This paper examines whether or not such earning tests emerge when pension system and income tax are optimally designed. We use a simple model with individuals differing both in productivity and their health status. The working life of an individual has two 'endings': an official retirement age at which he starts drawing pension benefits (while possibly supplementing them with some labour income) and an effective age of retirement at which professional activity is completely given up. Weekly work time is endogenous, but constant in the period before official retirement and again constant (but possibly at a different level), after official retirement. Earnings tests mean that earnings are subject to a higher tax after official retirement than before. We show under which conditions earnings tests emerge both under a linear and under a nonlinear tax scheme. In particular, we show that earning tests will occur if heterogeneities in health or productivity are more significant after official retirement than before.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 5551.

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Date of creation: Mar 2006
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:5551
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  1. Michele Boldrin & Juan J. Dolado & Juan F. Jimeno & Franco Peracchi, 1999. "The future of pensions in Europe," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 14(29), pages 287-320, October.
  2. Alan L. Gustman & Thomas L. Steimeier, 2004. "The Social Security Retirement Earning Test,Retirement and Benefit Claiming," Working Papers wp090, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
  3. Courtney Coile & Jonathan Gruber, 2000. "Social Security and Retirement," NBER Working Papers 7830, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Cremer, Helmuth & Lozachmeur, Jean-Marie & Pestieau, Pierre, 2004. "Social security, retirement age and optimal income taxation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(11), pages 2259-2281, September.
  5. Robert Fenge & Pierre Pestieau, 2005. "Social Security and Early Retirement," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262062496, June.
  6. Richard Disney & Sarah Smith, 2002. "The Labour Supply Effect of the Abolition of the Earnings Rule for Older Workers in the United Kingdom," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(478), pages C136-C152, March.
  7. Leora Friedberg, 1999. "The Labor Supply Effects of the Social Security Earnings Test," NBER Working Papers 7200, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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