IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Beyond the Labour Income Tax Wedge: The Unemployment-Reducing Effect of Tax Progressivity

  • Etienne LEHMANN


    (CRED (TEPP) University Panth eon-Assas Paris 2 and CREST, UCL-IRES, IDEP, IZA and CESifo)

  • Claudio LUCIFORA


    (Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milano and IZA)

  • Simone MORICONI


    (Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milano and Univerity of Luxembourg, CREA)



    (FNRS and UNIVERSITE CATHOLIQUE DE LOUVAIN, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES))

This paper argues that, for a given overall level of labour income taxation, a more progressive tax schedule reduces the unemployment rate and increases the employment rate. From a theoretical point of view, higher progressivity induces a wage-moderation effect and increases overall employment since employment of low-paid workers is more responsive. We test these theoretical predictions on a panel of 21 OECD countries over 1998-2008. Controlling for the burden of taxation at the average wage, we show that a more progressive taxation reduces the unemployment rate and increases the employment rate. These findings are confirmed when we account for the potential endogeneity of both average taxation and progressivity. Overall our results suggest that policy-makers should not only focus on the detrimental effects of tax progressivity on in-work effort.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by Université catholique de Louvain, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES) in its series Discussion Papers (IRES - Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales) with number 2013018.

in new window

Length: 35
Date of creation: 15 Jul 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ctl:louvir:2013018
Contact details of provider: Postal: Place Montesquieu 3, 1348 Louvain-la-Neuve (Belgium)
Fax: +32 10473945
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Ardagna, Silvia, 2004. "Fiscal Stabilizations: When Do They Work and Why," Scholarly Articles 2580047, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  2. Christopher Pissarides, 1997. "The impact of employment tax cuts on unemployment and wages : the role of unemployment benefits and tax structure," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 2332, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  3. Werner Eichhorst & Michael Feil & Paul Marx, 2010. "Crisis, What Crisis? Patterns of Adaptation in European Labor Markets," Applied Economics Quarterly (formerly: Konjunkturpolitik), Duncker & Humblot, Berlin, vol. 61(Supplemen), pages 29-64.
  4. Herwig Immervoll & Henrik Jacobsen Kleven & Claus Thustrup Kreiner & Emmanuel Saez, 2007. "Welfare reform in European countries: a microsimulation analysis," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 117(516), pages 1-44, 01.
  5. Roed, Knut & Strom, Steinar, 2002. " Progressive Taxes and the Labour Market: Is the Trade-Off between Equality and Efficiency Inevitable?," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 16(1), pages 77-110, February.
  6. Sorensen, Peter Birch, 1999. "Optimal tax progressivity in imperfect labour markets," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(3), pages 435-452, September.
  7. Edward C. Prescott, 2004. "Why do Americans work so much more than Europeans?," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Jul, pages 2-13.
  8. Matthieu Bunel & Yannick L'Horty, 2012. "The Effects of Reduced Social Security Contributions on Employment: an Evaluation of the 2003 French Reform," TEPP Working Paper 2012-12, TEPP.
  9. Andrea Pescatori & Daniel Leigh & Jaime Guajardo & Pete Devries, 2011. "A New Action-Based Dataset of Fiscal Consolidation," IMF Working Papers 11/128, International Monetary Fund.
  10. Christopher A. Pissarides, 1985. "Taxes, Subsidies and Equilibrium Unemployment," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 52(1), pages 121-133.
  11. Richard Blundell & Andrew Shephard, 2011. "Employment, Hours of Work and the Optimal Taxation of Low Income Families," Working Papers 1307, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Center for Economic Policy Studies..
  12. Algan, Yann & Cahuc, Pierre & Sangnier, Marc, 2014. "Trust and the Welfare State: the Twin Peaks Curve," CEPR Discussion Papers 10061, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  13. M. Hashem Pesaran, 2006. "Estimation and Inference in Large Heterogeneous Panels with a Multifactor Error Structure," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 74(4), pages 967-1012, 07.
  14. Hansen, Claus Thustrup & Pedersen, Lars Haagen & Slok, Torsten, 2000. "Ambiguous effects of tax progressivity -- theory and Danish evidence," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 7(3), pages 335-347, May.
  15. Olivier Blanchard & Justin Wolfers, 1999. "The Role of Shocks and Institutions in the Rise of European Unemployment: The Aggregate Evidence," NBER Working Papers 7282, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Richard Rogerson & Johanna Wallenius, 2007. "Micro and Macro Elasticities in a Life Cycle Model With Taxes," NBER Working Papers 13017, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Algan, Yann & Cahuc, Pierre, 2006. "Civic Attitudes and the Design of Labor Market Institutions: Which Countries Can Implement the Danish Flexicurity Model?," IZA Discussion Papers 1928, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  18. Etienne Lehmann & Alexis Parmentier & Bruno van der Linden, 2008. "Optimal Income Taxation with Endogenous Participation and Search Unemployment," IDEP Working Papers 0805, Institut d'economie publique (IDEP), Marseille, France, revised 15 Sep 2008.
  19. Paola Sapienza & Anna Toldra‐Simats & Luigi Zingales, 2013. "Understanding Trust," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 123(12), pages 1313-1332, December.
  20. Arthur J. Hosios, 1990. "On The Efficiency of Matching and Related Models of Search and Unemployment," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 57(2), pages 279-298.
  21. 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.
  22. Francesco Daveri & Guido Tabellini, 2000. "Unemployment, growth and taxation in industrial countries," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 15(30), pages 47-104, 04.
  23. Fuest, Clemens & Huber, Bernd, 2000. "Is tax progression really good for employment? A model with endogenous hours of work," Munich Reprints in Economics 20296, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  24. Layard, Richard & Nickell, Stephen & Jackman, Richard, 2005. "Unemployment: Macroeconomic Performance and the Labour Market," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199279173, July.
  25. Hansen, Claus Thustrup, 1999. " Lower Tax Progression, Longer Hours and Higher Wages," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 101(1), pages 49-65, March.
  26. Luca Nunziata, 2001. "Institutions and Wage Determination: a Multi-Country Approach," Economics Papers 2001-W29, Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford.
  27. repec:oup:restud:v:73:y:2006:i:3:p:743-767 is not listed on IDEAS
  28. Guiso, Luigi & Sapienza, Paola & Zingales, Luigi, 2008. "Long Term Persistence," CEPR Discussion Papers 6981, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  29. Stephen Nickell & Luca Nunziata & Wolfgang Ochel, 2005. "Unemployment in the OECD Since the 1960s. What Do We Know?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 115(500), pages 1-27, 01.
  30. Rachel Griffith & Rupert Harrison & Gareth Macartney, 2007. "Product Market Reforms, Labour Market Institutions and Unemployment," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 117(519), pages C142-C166, 03.
  31. repec:spo:wpecon:info:hdl:2441/8811 is not listed on IDEAS
  32. Etienne Lehmann & François Marical & Laurence Rioux, 2012. "Labor Income Responds Differently to Income-Tax and Payroll-Tax Reforms," Working Papers 2012-24, Centre de Recherche en Economie et Statistique.
  33. Bean, C R & Layard, P R G & Nickell, S J, 1986. "The Rise in Unemployment: A Multi-country Study," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 53(210(S)), pages S1-22, Supplemen.
  34. Andrea Bassanini & Romain Duval, 2009. "Unemployment, institutions, and reform complementarities: re-assessing the aggregate evidence for OECD countries," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 25(1), pages 40-59, Spring.
  35. Alfonso Arpaia & Gilles Mourre, 2012. "Institutions And Performance In European Labour Markets: Taking A Fresh Look At Evidence," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 26(1), pages 1-41, 02.
  36. Pierre Cahuc & André Zylberberg, 2004. "Labor Economics," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 026203316x, June.
  37. Daniel S. Hamermesh, 1993. "Labor Demand and the Source of Adjustment Costs," NBER Working Papers 4394, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  38. Holmlund, B. & Kolm, A.S., 1995. "Progressive Taxation, Wage Setting, and Unemployment , Theory and Swedish Evidence," Papers 1995-15, Uppsala - Working Paper Series.
  39. Martin Falk & Bertrand Koebel, 2001. "A dynamic heterogeneous labour demand model for German manufacturing," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 33(3), pages 339-348.
  40. Yann Algan & Pierre Cahuc & André Zylberberg, 2002. "Public employment and labor market performances," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) halshs-00256207, HAL.
  41. Yann Algan & Pierre Cahuc & Marc Sangnier, 2011. "Efficient and Inefficient Welfare States," Sciences Po publications 5445, Sciences Po.
  42. Chinhui Juhn & Kevin M. Murphy & Robert H. Topel, 1991. "Why Has the Natural Rate of Unemployment Increased over Time?," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 22(2), pages 75-142.
  43. Belot, Michèle & van Ours, Jan C., 2000. "Does the Recent Success of Some OECD Countries in Lowering their Unemployment Rates Lie in the Clever Design of their Labour Market Reform?," IZA Discussion Papers 147, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  44. Richard Rogerson, 2006. "Understanding Differences in Hours Worked," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 9(3), pages 365-409, July.
  45. Richard Rogerson, 2008. "Structural Transformation and the Deterioration of European Labor Market Outcomes," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 116(2), pages 235-259, 04.
  46. Heckman, James J, 1993. "What Has Been Learned about Labor Supply in the Past Twenty Years?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(2), pages 116-21, May.
  47. Alan Manning, 1992. "Wage Bargaining and the Phillips Curve: The Identification and Specification of Aggregate Wage Equations," CEP Discussion Papers dp0062, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  48. J. A. Mirrlees, 1971. "An Exploration in the Theory of Optimum Income Taxation," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 38(2), pages 175-208.
  49. Doerrenberg, Philipp & Peichl, Andreas, 2010. "Progressive Taxation and Tax Morale," IZA Discussion Papers 5378, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  50. Giorgio Brunello & Daniela Sonedda, 2007. "Progressive taxation and wage setting when unions strategically interact," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 59(1), pages 127-140, January.
  51. Davide Tondani & Patrizia Mancini, 2005. "Gli effetti redistributivi delle riforme dell'imposizione personale nella XIV Legislatura," Public Economics 0510005, EconWPA.
  52. Hungerbühler, Mathias & Lehmann, Etienne & Parmentier, Alexis & Van der Linden, Bruno, 2005. "Optimal Redistributive Taxation in a Search Equilibrium Model," IZA Discussion Papers 1460, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  53. Torsten Persson & Guido Tabellini, 2002. "Political Economics: Explaining Economic Policy," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262661314, June.
  54. Jordi GalÌ & Roberto Perotti, 2003. "Fiscal policy and monetary integration in Europe," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 18(37), pages 533-572, October.
  55. Cloyne, James S, 2010. "Discretionary tax shocks in the United Kingdom 1945-2009: a narrative account and dataset," MPRA Paper 34913, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  56. Lockwood, Ben & Manning, Alan, 1993. "Wage setting and the tax system theory and evidence for the United Kingdom," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 52(1), pages 1-29, August.
  57. Christina D. Romer & David H. Romer, 2007. "The Macroeconomic Effects of Tax Changes: Estimates Based on a New Measure of Fiscal Shocks," NBER Working Papers 13264, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  58. Ardagna, Silvia, 2004. "Fiscal stabilizations: When do they work and why," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 48(5), pages 1047-1074, October.
  59. Galí, Jordi & Perotti, Roberto, 2003. "Fiscal Policy and Monetary Integration in Europe," CEPR Discussion Papers 3933, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  60. Richard Layard & Stephen Nickell, 1998. "Labour Market Institutions and Economic Performance," CEP Discussion Papers dp0407, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  61. R. A. Musgrave & Tun Thin, 1948. "Income Tax Progression, 1929-48," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 56, pages 498.
  62. Hersoug, Tor, 1984. "Union Wage Responses to Tax Changes," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 36(1), pages 37-51, March.
  63. Christopher A. Pissarides, 2000. "Equilibrium Unemployment Theory, 2nd Edition," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262161877, June.
  64. Kramarz, Francis & Philippon, Thomas, 2001. "The impact of differential payroll tax subsidies on minimum wage employment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 82(1), pages 115-146, October.
  65. Ben Lockwood & Alan Manning, 1993. "Wage Setting and the Tax System: theory and Evidence for the UK," CEP Discussion Papers dp0115, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  66. Lawrence Summers & Jonathan Gruber & Rodrigo Vergara, 1993. "Taxation and the Structure of Labor Markets: The Case of Corporatism," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 108(2), pages 385-411.
  67. Moen, Espen R, 1997. "Competitive Search Equilibrium," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(2), pages 385-411, April.
  68. Peter A. Diamond, 1982. "Wage Determination and Efficiency in Search Equilibrium," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 49(2), pages 217-227.
  69. Stéphanie Guichard & Mike Kennedy & Eckhard Wurzel & Christophe André, 2007. "What Promotes Fiscal Consolidation: OECD Country Experiences," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 553, OECD Publishing.
  70. Alexis, PARMENTIER, 2006. "The effects of the marginal tax rate in a matching model with endogenous labor supply," Discussion Papers (ECON - Département des Sciences Economiques) 2006011, Université catholique de Louvain, Département des Sciences Economiques.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ctl:louvir:2013018. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Anne DAVISTER-LOGIST)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.