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How Tax Progression Affects Effort and Employment

  • Koskela, Erkki

    ()

    (University of Helsinki)

  • Schöb, Ronnie

    ()

    (Free University of Berlin)

Within an efficiency wage framework, we study the effects of two revenue-neutral tax reforms that change the progressivity of the labour tax system. A revenue-neutral increase in both the wage tax and tax exemption and a revenue-neutral change in the composition of labour taxation towards the tax with the smaller tax base will lead to the same results: they moderate wages, workers’ effort, effective labour input and aggregate output. Whether employment rises or falls, however, depends in both reforms on the magnitude of the pre-reform total tax wedge. The larger this tax wedge is, the more negative is the impact of reforms on workers’ effort. A larger total tax wedge increases the negative effect of tax progression on labour productivity and thus thwarts the positive employment effect of wage moderation.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 2861.

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Length: 27 pages
Date of creation: Jun 2007
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as 'Is Tax Progression Good for Employment? Efficiency Wages and the Role of the Prereform Tax Structure' in: FinanzArchiv, 2009, 65 (1), 51 - 72
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp2861
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  1. Christopher Pissarides, 1997. "The impact of employment tax cuts on unemployment and wages : the role of unemployment benefits and tax structure," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 2332, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  2. Goerke, Laszlo, 1999. "Efficiency Wages and Taxes," Australian Economic Papers, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 38(2), pages 131-42, June.
  3. R. C. Merton, 1970. "Optimum Consumption and Portfolio Rules in a Continuous-time Model," Working papers 58, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  4. Pierre Picard & Eric Toulemonde, 2000. "Taxation and Labor Markets," Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers 0707, Econometric Society.
  5. Solow, Robert M., 1979. "Another possible source of wage stickiness," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 79-82.
  6. Sorensen, Peter Birch, 1999. "Optimal tax progressivity in imperfect labour markets," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(3), pages 435-452, September.
  7. Koskela, E. & Schob, R., 1998. "Does the Composition of Wage and Payroll Taxes Matter Under Nash Bargaining," University of Helsinki, Department of Economics 443, Department of Economics.
  8. Koskela Erkki & Schöb Ronnie, 2002. "Why Governments Should Tax Mobile Capital in the Presence of Unemployment," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 1(1), pages 1-22, January.
  9. Heijdra, Ben J. & Ligthart, Jenny E., 2004. "Labor tax reform and equilibrium unemployment: a search and matching approach," CCSO Working Papers 200409, University of Groningen, CCSO Centre for Economic Research.
  10. Shapiro, Carl & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1984. "Equilibrium Unemployment as a Worker Discipline Device," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(3), pages 433-44, June.
  11. Koskela, Erkki & Vilmunen, Jouko, 1996. "Tax progression is good for employment in popular models of trade union behaviour," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 3(1), pages 65-80, August.
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