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Labour Supply and Taxes: New Estimates of the Responses of Wives to Husbands’ Wages




In this paper, we estimate income- and substitution- labour supply and participation elasticities for Canadian married women using data from the Survey of Labour and Income Dynamics 1996-2005. We use the Canadian Tax and Credit Simulator (CTaCS) and detailed information on the structure of income at the household level to compute the marginal tax rates faced by each individual. We then use these marginal tax rates to compute net own-wage, spouse-wage, and non-labour income. We show how the magnitude of the estimated elasticities varies depending on whether net or gross wages and income are used in the estimation procedure, and quantify biases caused by using average instead of marginal tax rates. Finally, because marginal tax rates vary significantly over the sample, we use quantile regressions to compare elasticities at different points of the hours distribution. Overall, our results show that public policies now have, on average, less scope for influencing hours of work than 10 years ago. However, the quantile results show that wives working fewer hours per week are more sensitive to changes in their own or spouses’ wages.

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  • Benoit Dostie, 2012. "Labour Supply and Taxes: New Estimates of the Responses of Wives to Husbands’ Wages," Cahiers de recherche 12-02, HEC Montréal, Institut d'économie appliquée.
  • Handle: RePEc:iea:carech:1202

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Bradley T. Heim, 2007. "The Incredible Shrinking Elasticities: Married Female Labor Supply, 1978–2002," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 42(4).
    2. Osberg, Lars & Phipps, Shelley, 1993. "Labour Supply with Quantity Constraints: Estimates from a Large Sample of Canadian Workers," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 45(2), pages 269-291, April.
    3. Nakamura, Masao & Nakamura, Alice & Cullen, Dallas, 1979. "Job Opportunities, the Offered Wage, and the Labor Supply of Married Women," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 69(5), pages 787-805, December.
    4. Devereux, Paul J., 2007. "Improved Errors-in-Variables Estimators for Grouped Data," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 25, pages 278-287, July.
    5. Alice Nakamura & Masao Nakamura, 1983. "Part-Time and Full-Time Work Behaviour of Married Women: A Model with a Doubly Truncated Dependent Variable," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 16(2), pages 229-257, May.
    6. Paul J. Devereux, 2004. "Changes in Relative Wages and Family Labor Supply," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(3).
    7. Shelley A. Phipps, 1991. "Behavioural Response to UI Reform in Constrained and Unconstrained Models of Labour Supply," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 24(1), pages 34-54, February.
    8. Pierre Lefebvre & Philip Merrigan, 2008. "Child-Care Policy and the Labor Supply of Mothers with Young Children: A Natural Experiment from Canada," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 26(3), pages 519-548, July.
    9. Angrist, Joshua D., 1991. "Grouped-data estimation and testing in simple labor-supply models," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 47(2-3), pages 243-266, February.
    10. Paul J. Devereux, 2007. "Small-sample bias in synthetic cohort models of labor supply," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 22(4), pages 839-848.
    11. J. Barry Smith & Morton Stelcner, 1988. "Labour Supply of Married Women in Canada, 1980," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 21(4), pages 857-870, November.
    12. Richard P. Chaykowski & Lisa M. Powell, 1999. "Women and the Labour Market: Recent Trends and Policy Issues," Canadian Public Policy, University of Toronto Press, vol. 25(s1), pages 2-25, November.
    13. Emmanuel Saez & Michael R. Veall, 2005. "The Evolution of High Incomes in Northern America: Lessons from Canadian Evidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(3), pages 831-849, June.
    14. Chris Robinson & Nigel Tomes, 1985. "More on the Labour Supply of Canadian Women," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 18(1), pages 156-163, February.
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    16. Nakamura, Alice & Nakamura, Masao, 1981. "A Comparison of the Labor Force Behavior of Married Women in the United States and Canada, with Special Attention to the Impact of Income Taxes," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 49(2), pages 451-489, March.
    17. Charles Michalopoulos & Philip K. Robins, 2000. "Employment and child-care choices in Canada and the United States," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 33(2), pages 435-470, May.
    18. Nakamura, Alice & Nakamura, Masao, 1985. "Dynamic models of the labor force behavior of married women which can be estimated using limited amounts of past information," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 27(3), pages 273-298, March.
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    JEL classification:

    • C25 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Discrete Regression and Qualitative Choice Models; Discrete Regressors; Proportions; Probabilities
    • 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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