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Interwar U.K. unemployment: the Benjamin and Kochin hypothesis or the legacy of “just” taxes?

  • James M. Nason
  • Shaun P. Vahey

Benjamin and Kochin (1979, Journal of Political Economy) present regression estimates to support their hypothesis that larger unemployment benefits increased U.K. unemployment post–World War I (WWI). The Benjamin-Kochin (BK) regression is easy to replicate. When the replication is widened to include income tax rates and WWI observations using Bayesian Monte Carlo methods, the evidence moves against the BK hypothesis and in favor of regressions that include the capital income tax rate. We explain these results with Daunton (2002, Just Taxes). He argues that U.K. tax rates were set during WWI and the interwar period to achieve an equitable, or “just,” mix of taxes and debt. Neoclassical theory suggests that capital income tax rates fluctuations created inefficient factor input allocations that drove up interwar U.K. unemployment.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta in its series Working Paper with number 2006-04.

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Date of creation: 2006
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedawp:2006-04
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  1. Benjamin, Daniel K & Kochin, Levis A, 1982. "Unemployment and Unemployment Benefits in Twentieth-Century Britain: A Reply to Our Critics [Searching for an Explanation of Unemployment in Interwar Britain]," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 90(2), pages 410-36, April.
  2. Metcalf, David & Nickell, Stephen J & Floros, Nicos, 1982. "Still Searching for an Explanation of Unemployment in Interwar Britain," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 90(2), pages 386-99, April.
  3. John Geweke, 1999. "Using Simulation Methods for Bayesian Econometric Models," Computing in Economics and Finance 1999 832, Society for Computational Economics.
  4. Benjamin, Daniel K & Kochin, Levis A, 1979. "Searching for an Explanation of Unemployment in Interwar Britain," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(3), pages 441-78, June.
  5. Eichengreen, Barry, 1987. "Unemployment in Interwar Britain: Dole or Doldrums?," CEPR Discussion Papers 207, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. Cross, Rodney, 1982. "How Much Voluntary Unemployment in Interwar Britain? [Searching for an Explanation of Unemployment in Interwar Britain]," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 90(2), pages 380-85, April.
  7. Collins, Michael, 1982. "Unemployment in Interwar Britain: Still Searching for an Explanation [Searching for an Explanation of Unemployment in Interwar Britain]," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 90(2), pages 369-79, April.
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