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Identification of income-leisure preferences and evaluation of income tax policy

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  • Charles F. Manski

    () (Institute for Fiscal Studies and Northwestern University)

Abstract

The merits of alternative income tax policies depend on the population distribution of preferences for income and leisure. Standard theory, which supposes that persons want more income and more leisure, does not predict how they resolve the tension between these desires. Empirical studies of labor supply have imposed strong preference assumptions that lack foundation. This paper examines anew the problem of inference on income-leisure preferences and considers the implications for evaluation of tax policy. I first perform a basic revealed-preference analysis assuming only that persons prefer more income and leisure. This shows that observation of a person's time allocation under a status quo tax policy may bound his allocation under a proposed policy or may have no implications, depending on the tax schedules and the person's status quo time allocation. I next explore the identifying power of two classes of assumptions that restrict the distribution of income-leisure preferences. One assumes that groups of persons who face different choice sets have the same preference distribution. The second restricts the shape of this distribution. The generic finding is partial identification of preferences. This implies partial prediction of tax revenue under proposed policies and partial knowledge of the welfare function for utilitarian policy evaluation.

Suggested Citation

  • Charles F. Manski, 2012. "Identification of income-leisure preferences and evaluation of income tax policy," CeMMAP working papers CWP07/12, Centre for Microdata Methods and Practice, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  • Handle: RePEc:ifs:cemmap:07/12
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Asher A. Blass & Saul Lach & Charles F. Manski, 2010. "Using Elicited Choice Probabilities To Estimate Random Utility Models: Preferences For Electricity Reliability," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 51(2), pages 421-440, May.
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    3. Emmanuel Saez & Joel Slemrod & Seth H. Giertz, 2012. "The Elasticity of Taxable Income with Respect to Marginal Tax Rates: A Critical Review," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 50(1), pages 3-50, March.
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    5. Soren Blomquist & Whitney Newey, 2002. "Nonparametric Estimation with Nonlinear Budget Sets," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(6), pages 2455-2480, November.
    6. Blundell, Richard & Macurdy, Thomas, 1999. "Labor supply: A review of alternative approaches," Handbook of Labor Economics,in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 27, pages 1559-1695 Elsevier.
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    8. Blomquist, Sören & Newey, Whitney, 1997. "Nonparametric Estimation of Labor Supply Functions Generated by Piece Wise Linear Budget Constraints," Working Paper Series 1997:24, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
    9. Blundell, Richard & Bozio, Antoine & Laroque, Guy, 2011. "Extensive and Intensive Margins of Labour Supply: Working Hours in the US, UK and France," IZA Discussion Papers 6051, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    10. Killingsworth, Mark R. & Heckman, James J., 1987. "Female labor supply: A survey," Handbook of Labor Economics,in: O. Ashenfelter & R. Layard (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 2, pages 103-204 Elsevier.
    11. Richard Blundell & Andrew Shephard, 2012. "Employment, Hours of Work and the Optimal Taxation of Low-Income Families," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 79(2), pages 481-510.
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    13. repec:spr:etbull:v:3:y:2015:i:2:d:10.1007_s40505-014-0061-5 is not listed on IDEAS
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    Cited by:

    1. Soren Blomquist & Anil Kumar & Che-Yuan Liang & Whitney K. Newey, 2014. "Individual heterogeneity, nonlinear budget sets, and taxable income," CeMMAP working papers CWP21/14, Centre for Microdata Methods and Practice, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
    2. repec:eme:ceapzz:s0573-855520140000293006 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Abi Adams, 2015. "Mutually consistent revealed preference bounds," IFS Working Papers W15/20, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
    4. André Decoster & Peter Haan, 2015. "Empirical welfare analysis with preference heterogeneity," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 22(2), pages 224-251, April.
    5. Pietro Tebaldi & Alexander Torgovitsky & Hanbin Yang, 2019. "Nonparametric Estimates of Demand in the California Health Insurance Exchange," NBER Working Papers 25827, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Sören Blomquist & Whitney K. Newey, 2017. "The Bunching Estimator Cannot Identify the Taxable Income Elasticity," CESifo Working Paper Series 6736, CESifo Group Munich.
    7. repec:spr:etbull:v:3:y:2015:i:2:d:10.1007_s40505-014-0061-5 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Kamat, Vishal, 2019. "Identification with Latent Choice Sets," TSE Working Papers 19-1031, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE).
    9. Vishal Kamat, 2017. "Identification with Latent Choice Sets," Papers 1711.02048, arXiv.org, revised Aug 2019.
    10. Adams, Abigail, 2019. "Mutually Consistent Revealed Preference Demand Predictions," CEPR Discussion Papers 13580, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    11. Schröder, Melanie & Schmitt, Norma & Mantei, Britta & Brünn, Claudia, 2014. "Social Norms or Income Taxation - What Drives Couple's Labor Supply? Experimental Evidence," Annual Conference 2014 (Hamburg): Evidence-based Economic Policy 100375, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    12. Cherchye, Laurens & Demuynck, Thomas & De Rock, Bram, 2014. "Revealed preference analysis for convex rationalizations on nonlinear budget sets," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 152(C), pages 224-236.
    13. Rolf Aaberge & Ugo Colombino, 2014. "Labour Supply Models," Contributions to Economic Analysis,in: Handbook of Microsimulation Modelling, volume 127, pages 167-221 Emerald Publishing Ltd.
    14. repec:kap:theord:v:84:y:2018:i:2:d:10.1007_s11238-017-9620-1 is not listed on IDEAS

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