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Dealing with negative marginal utilities in the discrete choice modelling of labour supply

  • Liégeois, Philippe
  • Islam, Nizamul

In discrete choice labour supply analysis, it is often reasonably expected that utility is increasing with income. Yet, analyses based on discrete choice models sometimes mention that, when no restriction is imposed a priori in the statistical optimization program, the monotonicity condition is not fully satisfied ex post. Obviously, the standard statistical optimization program might be completed with conditions (one per individual) imposing positive marginal utilities. Unfortunately, such a high-dimensional program most often appears to be rather time-consuming in order to be solved, if not practically unsolvable. In order to overcome this drawback, some authors impose general parametric restrictions a priori (hence reducing de facto the dimension of the parameter set), which is sufficient to lead to positive marginal utilities ex post. However, those restrictions might sometimes appear to be unnecessarily too severe and then generate a sub-optimal set of estimated values for the parameters of the utility function. Alternatively, we show that it may be easy to avoid unnecessary restrictions. The high-dimensional program including conditions for positive marginal utilities for all can sometimes be equivalently replaced by a one-dimensional one. At the end, no observation is hopefully showing negative marginal utility anymore at optimum.

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Paper provided by EUROMOD at the Institute for Social and Economic Research in its series EUROMOD Working Papers with number EM6/10.

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Date of creation: 01 Oct 2010
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Publication status: published
Handle: RePEc:ese:emodwp:em6-10
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  1. José M. Labeaga, Xisco Oliver & Xisco Oliver & Amedeo Spadaro, . "Discrete choice models of labour Supply, behavioural microsimulation and the Spanish tax reforms," Working Papers 2005-14, FEDEA.
  2. Berger, Frederic & Islam, Nizamul & Liégeois, Philippe, 2010. "Discrete choice modelling of labour supply in Luxembourg through EUROMOD microsimulation," EUROMOD Working Papers EM5/10, EUROMOD at the Institute for Social and Economic Research.
  3. Keane, Michael & Moffitt, Robert, 1998. "A Structural Model of Multiple Welfare Program Participation and Labor Supply," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 39(3), pages 553-89, August.
  4. Arthur van Soest, 1995. "Structural Models of Family Labor Supply: A Discrete Choice Approach," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 30(1), pages 63-88.
  5. Richard Blundell & Alan Duncan & Julian McCrae & Costas Meghir, 2000. "The labour market impact of the working families’ tax credit," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 21(1), pages 75-103, March.
  6. Frédéric Berger & Nizamul Islam & Philippe Liégeois, 2011. "Behavioural Microsimulation and Female Labour Supply in Luxembourg," Brussels Economic Review, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles, vol. 54(4), pages 389-420.
  7. Heckman, James & Singer, Burton, 1984. "A Method for Minimizing the Impact of Distributional Assumptions in Econometric Models for Duration Data," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(2), pages 271-320, March.
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