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Is the Optimal Labor Income Tax Progressive in a Unionized Economy?

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  • Aronsson, Thomas

    () (Department of Economics, Umeå University)

  • Sjögren, Tomas

    () (Department of Economics, Umeå University)

Abstract

This paper concerns optimal nonlinear labor income taxation in an economy with union wage setting and endogenous hours of work. The government is assumed to act in accordance with a utilitarian objective function. The main purpose of the paper is to study the determinants of tax progression and, in particular, to relate tax progression to the choice of work hours. We show how the optimal degree of tax progression depends on the incentives underlying the choice of work hours, as well as on whether or not the government can monitor the wage rate via tax policy. If the wage rate is chosen by the union member with median seniority, in which case the wage rate will be fixed under certain conditions, the marginal tax rate is unambiguously positive and the tax structure unambiguously progressive. If, on the other hand, the union acts according to the utilitarian framework, we can no longer in general rule out regressive tax systems. We also show that the tax system is more likely to be progressive if the individual union members freely choose their hours of work conditional on the wage rate, than if the union is able to directly affect the hours of work per employee.

Suggested Citation

  • Aronsson, Thomas & Sjögren, Tomas, 2002. "Is the Optimal Labor Income Tax Progressive in a Unionized Economy?," Umeå Economic Studies 587, Umeå University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:umnees:0587
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Hersoug, Tor, 1984. "Union Wage Responses to Tax Changes," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 36(1), pages 37-51, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Aronsson, Thomas & Micheletto, Luca, 2017. "Optimal Redistributive Income Taxation and Efficiency Wages," Umeå Economic Studies 953, Umeå University, Department of Economics.
    2. Aronsson, Thomas & Wikström, Magnus, 2011. "Optimal Tax Progression: Does it Matter if Wage Bargaining is Centralized or Decentralized?," Umeå Economic Studies 829, Umeå University, Department of Economics.
    3. Aronsson, Thomas & Sjögren, Tomas, 2005. "Externalities, Border Trade and Illegal Production: An Optimal Tax Approach to Alcohol Policy," Umeå Economic Studies 654, Umeå University, Department of Economics.
    4. Thomas Aronsson & James R. Walker, 2010. "Labor Supply, Tax Base and Public Policy in Sweden," NBER Chapters,in: Reforming the Welfare State: Recovery and Beyond in Sweden, pages 127-158 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Thomas Piketty & Emmanuel Saez & Stefanie Stantcheva, 2014. "Optimal Taxation of Top Labor Incomes: A Tale of Three Elasticities," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 6(1), pages 230-271, February.
    6. Aronsson, Thomas, 2007. "General Income Taxation, Public Goods and Decentralized Leadership," Umeå Economic Studies 715, Umeå University, Department of Economics.
    7. Thomas Aronsson & Tomas Sjögren & Torbjörn Dalin, 2009. "Optimal taxation and redistribution in an OLG model with unemployment," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 16(2), pages 198-218, April.
    8. Thomas Aronsson & Erkki Koskela, 2008. "Optimal Redistributive Taxation and Provision of Public Input Goods in an Economy with Outsourcing and Unemployment," CESifo Working Paper Series 2481, CESifo Group Munich.
    9. Thomas Aronsson, 2005. "Environmental Policy, Efficient Taxation and Unemployment," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 12(2), pages 131-144, March.
    10. Thomas Aronsson & Tomas Sjögren, 2010. "Optimal income taxation and social norms in the labor market," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 17(1), pages 67-89, February.
    11. Thomas Aronsson & Tomas Sjögren, 2010. "An Optimal-Tax Approach to Alcohol Policy," FinanzArchiv: Public Finance Analysis, Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 66(2), pages 153-169, June.
    12. Thomas Aronsson Aronsson & Thomas Jonsson & Tomas Sjögren, 2006. "Environmental Policy and Optimal Taxation in a Decentralized Economic Federation," FinanzArchiv: Public Finance Analysis, Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 62(3), pages 437-454, September.
    13. Thomas Aronsson & Thomas Jonsson & Tomas Sjögren, 2006. "International Environmental Policy Reforms, Tax Distortions, and the Labor Market," FinanzArchiv: Public Finance Analysis, Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 62(2), pages 199-217, June.
    14. Aronsson, Thomas & Johansson-Stenman, Olof, 2008. "When the Joneses' consumption hurts: Optimal public good provision and nonlinear income taxation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(5-6), pages 986-997, June.
    15. Aronsson, Thomas & Persson, Lars & Sjögren, Tomas, 2006. "Optimal Taxation and Transboundary Externalities - Are Endogenous World Market Prices Important?," Umeå Economic Studies 699, Umeå University, Department of Economics.
    16. Aronsson, Thomas & Wehke, Sven, 2008. "Public goods, unemployment and policy coordination," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 38(3), pages 285-298, May.
    17. Aronsson, Thomas & Löfgren, Karl-Gustaf, 2007. "Welfare Theory: History and Modern Results," Umeå Economic Studies 726, Umeå University, Department of Economics.
    18. Dalin, Torbjörn & Stage, Jesper, 2011. "The effects of capital income taxation on wage formation," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 113(2), pages 186-188.
    19. Aronsson, Thomas & Koskela, Erkki, 2008. "Optimal Redistributive Taxation and Provision of Public Input Goods in an Economy with Outsourcing and Unemployment," Umeå Economic Studies 759, Umeå University, Department of Economics.
    20. Aronsson, Thomas, 2010. "Optimal income taxation and decentralized fiscal federalism," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(4), pages 187-195, July.
    21. repec:eee:pubeco:v:153:y:2017:i:c:p:56-68 is not listed on IDEAS
    22. Lai, Ching-Chong & Liao, Chih-Hsing, 2012. "Optimal nonlinear income taxation with productive government expenditure," International Review of Economics & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 66-77.
    23. Aronsson, Thomas & Koskela, Erkki, 2009. "Optimal Redistributive Taxation and Provision of Public Input Goods in an Economy with Outsourcing and Unemployment," IZA Discussion Papers 4196, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Optimal taxation; labor supply; union wage setting;

    JEL classification:

    • H21 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Efficiency; Optimal Taxation
    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply
    • J51 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor-Management Relations, Trade Unions, and Collective Bargaining - - - Trade Unions: Objectives, Structure, and Effects

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