IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/iza/izadps/dp13900.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Labor Supply Responses to Learning the Tax and Benefit Schedule

Author

Listed:
  • Kostol, Andreas Ravndal

    (Arizona State University)

  • Myhre, Andreas S.

    (Statistics Norway)

Abstract

While optimization frictions have been shown to attenuate earnings responses to financial incentives, less is understood about the individual factors shaping the response. The main contribution of this paper is to separately quantify the role of learning the tax and benefit schedule versus other kinds of frictions. A unique combination of notches in the tax and benefit schedule and an information policy in a Norwegian welfare reform facilitate our study. The presence of notches allows us to measure overall frictions. Quasi-random assignment of a letter targeting misperceptions about the slope and locations of benefit phase-out regions allows us to pin down the role of information. Our analysis delivers two main findings. First, about 50% do not behave as predicted by standard labor supply models, and optimization frictions are particularly prevalent when financial incentives change. Without adjusting for these overall frictions, estimated elasticities would be attenuated by at least 70%. Second, the observed elasticity among those who receive the information letter is at least twice as large as among the non-informed, suggesting governments can partly offset the attenuation with information policy. Our calculations suggest misperceptions of the tax and benefit schedule account for two-thirds of the attenuation in earnings responses to financial work incentives. The findings have important implications for the effectiveness of tax and transfer policy.

Suggested Citation

  • Kostol, Andreas Ravndal & Myhre, Andreas S., 2020. "Labor Supply Responses to Learning the Tax and Benefit Schedule," IZA Discussion Papers 13900, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp13900
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: https://docs.iza.org/dp13900.pdf
    Download Restriction: no
    ---><---

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Wojciech Kopczuk & David Munroe, 2015. "Mansion Tax: The Effect of Transfer Taxes on the Residential Real Estate Market," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 7(2), pages 214-257, May.
    2. Bastani, Spencer & Selin, Håkan, 2014. "Bunching and non-bunching at kink points of the Swedish tax schedule," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 109(C), pages 36-49.
    3. Michael Carlos Best & Anne Brockmeyer & Henrik Jacobsen Kleven & Johannes Spinnewijn & Mazhar Waseem, 2015. "Production versus Revenue Efficiency with Limited Tax Capacity: Theory and Evidence from Pakistan," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 123(6), pages 1311-1355.
    4. Doruk Cengiz & Arindrajit Dube & Attila Lindner & Ben Zipperer, 2018. "The effect of minimum wages on low-wage jobs: evidence from the United States using a bunching estimator," CEP Discussion Papers dp1531, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    5. Stefano DellaVigna, 2009. "Psychology and Economics: Evidence from the Field," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 47(2), pages 315-372, June.
    6. Dickens, William T & Lundberg, Shelly J, 1993. "Hours Restrictions and Labor Supply," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 34(1), pages 169-192, February.
    7. Raj Chetty, 2012. "Bounds on Elasticities With Optimization Frictions: A Synthesis of Micro and Macro Evidence on Labor Supply," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 80(3), pages 969-1018, May.
    8. Raj Chetty & John N. Friedman & Emmanuel Saez, 2013. "Using Differences in Knowledge across Neighborhoods to Uncover the Impacts of the EITC on Earnings," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(7), pages 2683-2721, December.
    9. Bertanha, Marinho & McCallum, Andrew H. & Seegert, Nathan, 2023. "Better bunching, nicer notching," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 237(2).
    10. 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.
    11. Emmanuel Farhi & Xavier Gabaix, 2020. "Optimal Taxation with Behavioral Agents," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 110(1), pages 298-336, January.
    12. repec:eee:labchp:v:1:y:1986:i:c:p:3-102 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. Johannes Abeler & Simon Jäger, 2015. "Complex Tax Incentives," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 7(3), pages 1-28, August.
    14. Amy Finkelstein, 2009. "E-ztax: Tax Salience and Tax Rates," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, President and Fellows of Harvard College, vol. 124(3), pages 969-1010.
    15. Peter Harasztosi & Attila Lindner, 2019. "Who Pays for the Minimum Wage?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 109(8), pages 2693-2727, August.
    16. Philippe Ruh & Stefan Staubli, 2019. "Financial Incentives and Earnings of Disability Insurance Recipients: Evidence from a Notch Design," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 11(2), pages 269-300, May.
    17. Andreas Ravndal Kostol & Magne Mogstad, 2014. "How Financial Incentives Induce Disability Insurance Recipients to Return to Work," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(2), pages 624-655, February.
    18. Jacob Goldin & Tatiana Homonoff, 2013. "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: Cigarette Tax Salience and Regressivity," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 5(1), pages 302-336, February.
    19. Emmanuel Saez, 2010. "Do Taxpayers Bunch at Kink Points?," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 2(3), pages 180-212, August.
    20. Raj Chetty & Adam Looney & Kory Kroft, 2009. "Salience and Taxation: Theory and Evidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(4), pages 1145-1177, September.
    21. Saurabh Bhargava & Dayanand Manoli, 2015. "Psychological Frictions and the Incomplete Take-Up of Social Benefits: Evidence from an IRS Field Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(11), pages 3489-3529, November.
    22. 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.
    23. David H. Autor & Mark G. Duggan, 2006. "The Growth in the Social Security Disability Rolls: A Fiscal Crisis Unfolding," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 20(3), pages 71-96, Summer.
    24. le Maire, Daniel & Schjerning, Bertel, 2013. "Tax bunching, income shifting and self-employment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 107(C), pages 1-18.
    25. Damon Jones, 2012. "Inertia and Overwithholding: Explaining the Prevalence of Income Tax Refunds," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 4(1), pages 158-185, February.
    26. Raj Chetty & Emmanuel Saez, 2013. "Teaching the Tax Code: Earnings Responses to an Experiment with EITC Recipients," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 5(1), pages 1-31, January.
    27. Damon Jones, 2010. "Information, Preferences, and Public Benefit Participation: Experimental Evidence from the Advance EITC and 401(k) Savings," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(2), pages 147-163, April.
    28. Slemrod, Joel, 1994. "Fixing the leak in Okun's bucket optimal tax progressivity when avoidance can be controlled," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(1), pages 41-51, September.
    29. Altonji, Joseph G & Paxson, Christina H, 1988. "Labor Supply Preferences, Hours Constraints, and Hours-Wage Trade-Offs," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 6(2), pages 254-276, April.
    30. Sören Blomquist & Whitney K. Newey & Anil Kumar & Che-Yuan Liang, 2021. "On Bunching and Identification of the Taxable Income Elasticity," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 129(8), pages 2320-2343.
    31. Patrick Kline & Melissa Tartari, 2016. "Bounding the Labor Supply Responses to a Randomized Welfare Experiment: A Revealed Preference Approach," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 106(4), pages 972-1014, April.
    32. Zaresani, Arezou, 2020. "Adjustment cost and incentives to work: Evidence from a disability insurance program," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 188(C).
    33. Slemrod, Joel & Kopczuk, Wojciech, 2002. "The optimal elasticity of taxable income," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(1), pages 91-112, April.
    34. Raj Chetty & John N. Friedman & Tore Olsen & Luigi Pistaferri, 2011. "Adjustment Costs, Firm Responses, and Micro vs. Macro Labor Supply Elasticities: Evidence from Danish Tax Records," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, President and Fellows of Harvard College, vol. 126(2), pages 749-804.
    35. Doruk Cengiz & Arindrajit Dube & Attila Lindner & Ben Zipperer, 2019. "The Effect of Minimum Wages on Low-Wage Jobs," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, President and Fellows of Harvard College, vol. 134(3), pages 1405-1454.
    36. Jody Schimmel & David C. Stapleton & Jae Song, 2010. "How Common is "Parking" Among Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) Beneficiaries? Evidence from the 1999 Change in the Level of Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA)," Working Papers wp220, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
    37. Justine S. Hastings & Jeffrey M. Weinstein, 2008. "Information, School Choice, and Academic Achievement: Evidence from Two Experiments," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, President and Fellows of Harvard College, vol. 123(4), pages 1373-1414.
    38. Patrick Kline, 2011. "Oaxaca-Blinder as a Reweighting Estimator," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(3), pages 532-537, May.
    39. Henrik J. Kleven & Mazhar Waseem, 2013. "Using Notches to Uncover Optimization Frictions and Structural Elasticities: Theory and Evidence from Pakistan," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, President and Fellows of Harvard College, vol. 128(2), pages 669-723.
    40. Robert R. Weathers II & Jeffrey Hemmeter, 2011. "The impact of changing financial work incentives on the earnings of Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) beneficiaries," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 30(4), pages 708-728, September.
    41. Henrik Kleven, 2019. "The EITC and the Extensive Margin: A Reappraisal," NBER Working Papers 26405, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    42. repec:mpr:mprres:7173 is not listed on IDEAS
    43. William Morrison & Dmitry Taubinsky, 2023. "Rules of Thumb and Attention Elasticities: Evidence from Under- and Overreaction to Taxes," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 105(5), pages 1110-1127, September.
    44. Robert Jensen, 2010. "The (Perceived) Returns to Education and the Demand for Schooling," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, President and Fellows of Harvard College, vol. 125(2), pages 515-548.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Andrew Caplin & Eungik Lee & Søren Leth-Petersen & Johan Sæverud, 2022. "Communicating Social Security Reform," NBER Working Papers 30645, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Andreas Haller & Stefan Staubli & Josef Zweimüller, 2024. "Designing Disability Insurance Reforms: Tightening Eligibility Rules or Reducing Benefits?," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 92(1), pages 79-110, January.
    3. Hélène Benghalem & Pierre Cahuc & Pierre Villedieu, 2022. "The Lock-in Effects of Part-Time Unemployment Benefits," Working Papers hal-03881625, HAL.
    4. Dalia Ghanem & D'esir'e K'edagni & Ismael Mourifi'e, 2023. "Evaluating the Impact of Regulatory Policies on Social Welfare in Difference-in-Difference Settings," Papers 2306.04494, arXiv.org, revised Jun 2023.
    5. Juliana Londoño-Vélez & Javier Avila-Mahecha, 2024. "Behavioral Responses to Wealth Taxation: Evidence from Colombia," NBER Working Papers 32134, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Nyman, Pär & Aggeborn, Linuz & Ahlskog, Rafael, 2022. "Filling in the blanks. How does information about the Swedish EITC affect labour supply?," Working Paper Series 2022:9, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.
    7. Hélène Benghalem & Pierre Cahuc & Pierre Villedieu, 2022. "The Lock-in Effects of Part-Time Unemployment Benefits," SciencePo Working papers Main hal-03881625, HAL.
    8. Spencer Bastani, 2023. "The Marginal Cost of Public Funds: A Brief Guide," CESifo Working Paper Series 10322, CESifo.

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Zaresani, Arezou, 2020. "Adjustment cost and incentives to work: Evidence from a disability insurance program," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 188(C).
    2. Marcelo Bergolo & Gabriel Burdin & Mauricio De Rosa & Matias Giaccobasso & Martín Leites, 2019. "Tax bunching at the Kink in the Presence of Low Capacity of Enforcement: Evidence From Uruguay," Documentos de Trabajo (working papers) 19-05, Instituto de Economía - IECON.
    3. Myhre, Andreas, 2021. "Intensive and Extensive Margin Labor Supply Responses to Kinks in Disability Insurance Programs," MPRA Paper 109547, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Bastani, Spencer & Selin, Håkan, 2014. "Bunching and non-bunching at kink points of the Swedish tax schedule," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 109(C), pages 36-49.
    5. Joan Vilá, 2019. "Respuestas en los ingresos frente a un programa de transferencias monetarias: evidencia de un notch a partir de registros administrativos de Uruguay," Documentos de Trabajo (working papers) 19-07, Instituto de Economía - IECON.
    6. Tuomas Kosonen & Tuomas Matikka, 2019. "Discrete earnings responses to tax incentives: Empirical evidence and implications," Working Papers 326, Työn ja talouden tutkimus LABORE, The Labour Institute for Economic Research LABORE.
    7. Kosonen, Tuomas & Matikka, Tuomas, 2020. "Discrete Labor Supply: Empirical Evidence and Implications," Working Papers 132, VATT Institute for Economic Research.
    8. Waldenstrom, Daniel & Bastani, Spencer, 2020. "The Ability Gradient in Bunching," CEPR Discussion Papers 14599, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    9. Simeon Schächtele, 2020. "Tax Responses at Low Taxable Incomes: Evidence from Germany," Fiscal Studies, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 41(2), pages 411-439, June.
    10. Stuart Adam & James Browne & David Phillips & Barra Roantree, 2021. "Frictions and taxpayer responses: evidence from bunching at personal tax thresholds," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 28(3), pages 612-653, June.
    11. Tuomas Kosonen & Tuomas Matikka, 2023. "Discrete Labor Supply: Quasi-Experimental Evidence and Implications," Working Papers 9, Finnish Centre of Excellence in Tax Systems Research.
    12. Mavrokonstantis, Panos & Seibold, Arthur, 2022. "Bunching and Adjustment Costs: Evidence from Cypriot Tax Reforms," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 214(C).
    13. R. Lardeux, 2018. "Who Understands The French Income Tax? Bunching Where Tax Liabilities Start," Documents de Travail de l'Insee - INSEE Working Papers g2018-04, Institut National de la Statistique et des Etudes Economiques.
    14. Marx, Benjamin M., 2018. "Dynamic Bunching Estimation with Panel Data," MPRA Paper 88647, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    15. Carina Neisser, 2021. "The Elasticity of Taxable Income: A Meta-Regression Analysis [The top 1% in international and historical perspective]," The Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 131(640), pages 3365-3391.
    16. Pablo Gutierrez Cubillos, 2022. "Dividend tax credits and the elasticity of taxable income: evidence from small businesses," Working Papers 630, ECINEQ, Society for the Study of Economic Inequality.
    17. Bastani, Spencer & Giebe, Thomas & Miao, Chizheng, 2020. "Ethnicity and tax filing behavior," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 116(C).
    18. Traxler, Christian & Westermaier, Franz G. & Wohlschlegel, Ansgar, 2018. "Bunching on the Autobahn? Speeding responses to a ‘notched’ penalty scheme," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 157(C), pages 78-94.
    19. Alexander M. Gelber & Damon Jones & Daniel W. Sacks, 2013. "Earnings Adjustment Frictions: Evidence From Social Security Earnings Test," Working Papers 13-50, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
    20. Alex Rees-Jones & Dmitry Taubinsky, 2018. "Taxing Humans: Pitfalls of the Mechanism Design Approach and Potential Resolutions," Tax Policy and the Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 32(1), pages 107-133.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    labor supply; information; optimization frictions; social security; disability insurance;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • H20 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - General
    • H31 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - Household
    • H55 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Social Security and Public Pensions
    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply
    • J26 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Retirement; Retirement Policies

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp13900. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Holger Hinte (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/izaaade.html .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service. RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.