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Why do Europeans Work so Little?

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  • Olovsson, Conny

    () (Institute for International Economic Studies, Stockholm University)

Abstract

Market work per person is roughly 10 percent higher in the U.S. than in Sweden. However, if we include the work carried out in home production, the total amount of work only differs by 1 percent. I set up a model with home production, and show that differences in policy - mainly taxes – can account for the discrepancy in labor supply between Sweden and the U.S. Moreover, even though the elasticity of labor supply is rather low for individual households, labor taxes are estimated to be associated with considerable output losses. I also show that policy can account for the falling trend in market work in Sweden since 1960. The largest reduction occurs from 1960 until around 1980, both in the model and the data. After the early 1980s, the trends for both taxes and actual hours worked are basically flat. This is also true for hours worked in the model.

Suggested Citation

  • Olovsson, Conny, 2004. "Why do Europeans Work so Little?," Seminar Papers 727, Stockholm University, Institute for International Economic Studies.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:iiessp:0727
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Stephen Nickell, 2003. "Employment and Taxes," CESifo Working Paper Series 1109, CESifo Group Munich.
    2. Jonsson, Magnus & Klein, Paul, 2003. "Tax distortions in Sweden and the United States," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 47(4), pages 711-729, August.
    3. 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.
    4. Lindbeck, Assar, 1982. "Tax Effects versus Budget Effects on Labor Supply," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 20(4), pages 473-489, October.
    5. Chatterjee, Satyajit, 1994. "Transitional dynamics and the distribution of wealth in a neoclassical growth model," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(1), pages 97-119, May.
    6. Juster, F Thomas & Stafford, Frank P, 1991. "The Allocation of Time: Empirical Findings, Behavioral Models, and Problems of Measurement," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 29(2), pages 471-522, June.
    7. Browning, Martin & Hansen, Lars Peter & Heckman, James J., 1999. "Micro data and general equilibrium models," Handbook of Macroeconomics,in: J. B. Taylor & M. Woodford (ed.), Handbook of Macroeconomics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 8, pages 543-633 Elsevier.
    8. Schneider, Friedrich, 2002. "The Size and Development of the Shadow Economies of 22 Transition and 21 OECD Countries," IZA Discussion Papers 514, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Labor supply; Taxes; Home production;

    JEL classification:

    • D13 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Production and Intrahouse Allocation
    • H24 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Personal Income and Other Nonbusiness Taxes and Subsidies
    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply

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