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Subsidies on low skilled's social security contributions: the case of Belgium


  • John Dagsvik
  • Kristian Orsini
  • Zhiyang Jia


Belgium is characterised by a comparatively high tax wedge. Starting from the end of the 90’s there has been a growing concern over the effect of high labour costs on the employment of low skilled workers. One of the most innovative measures implemented by the federal government is the targeted reduction on social security contributions for low skilled workers: the Workbonus. The subsidy has increased steadily over the period 2000-2006. At the same time the eligibility to the benefit was considerably extended. The innovative feature of the tax credit is that - differently from other measure existing in OECD countries - eligibility is based on full-time equivalent earnings. The instrument therefore distinguishes between low skill and low effort and avoids the disincentive effect on labour supply at the intensive margin that is typically found in traditional measures means-tested on disposable income or earnings. This paper assesses the effects of the Workbonus on labour supply using different econometric frameworks. In particular, we compare estimates based on a traditional labour supply model, with results based on a modeling framework which accounts for heterogeneity in individuals’ job opportunities. Results show that accounting for demand side constraints leads to significantly lower estimates of labour supply effects. Nevertheless, the measure has a positive impact on labour supply and comparatively low cost per additional job created.

Suggested Citation

  • John Dagsvik & Kristian Orsini & Zhiyang Jia, 2008. "Subsidies on low skilled's social security contributions: the case of Belgium," Working Papers Department of Economics ces0816, KU Leuven, Faculty of Economics and Business, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:ete:ceswps:ces0816

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    Cited by:

    1. John K. Dagsvik & Zhiyang Jia, 2014. "Labor supply as a discrete choice among latent jobs: Unobserved heterogeneity and identification," Discussion Papers 786, Statistics Norway, Research Department.
    2. John K. Dagsvik & Zhiyang Jia, 2012. "Labor supply as a discrete choice among latent jobs," Discussion Papers 709, Statistics Norway, Research Department.

    More about this item


    Tax-benefit Systems – Microsimulation – Labour Supply – Structural Modeling.;

    JEL classification:

    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • H21 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Efficiency; Optimal Taxation
    • H23 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Externalities; Redistributive Effects; Environmental Taxes and Subsidies
    • H24 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Personal Income and Other Nonbusiness Taxes and Subsidies
    • H31 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - Household
    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply

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