IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Labor Supply Elasticities in Europe and the US

  • Bargain, Olivier


    (University of Aix-Marseille II)

  • Orsini, Kristian


    (KU Leuven)

  • Peichl, Andreas


    (ZEW Mannheim)

Despite numerous studies on labor supply, the size of elasticities is rarely comparable across countries. In this paper, we suggest the first large-scale international comparison of elasticities, while netting out possible differences due to methods, data selection and the period of investigation. We rely on comparable data for 17 European countries and the US, a common empirical approach and a complete simulation of tax-benefit policies affecting household budgets. We find that wage-elasticities are small and vary less across countries than previously thought, e.g., between .2 and .6 for married women. Results are robust to several modeling assumptions. We show that differences in tax-benefit systems or demographic compositions explain little of the cross-country variation, leaving room for other interpretations, notably in terms of heterogeneous work preferences. We derive important implications for research on optimal taxation.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 5820.

in new window

Length: 47 pages
Date of creation: Jun 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp5820
Contact details of provider: Postal: IZA, P.O. Box 7240, D-53072 Bonn, Germany
Phone: +49 228 3894 223
Fax: +49 228 3894 180
Web page:

Order Information: Postal: IZA, Margard Ody, P.O. Box 7240, D-53072 Bonn, Germany

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Ballard, Charles L & Shoven, John B & Whalley, John, 1985. "General Equilibrium Computations of the Marginal Welfare Costs of Taxes in the United States," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(1), pages 128-38, March.
  2. Richard Blundell & Thomas MaCurdy, 1998. "Labour supply: a review of alternative approaches," IFS Working Papers W98/18, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  3. John Creedy & Guyonne Kalb, 2003. "Discrete Hours Labour Supply Modelling: Specification, Estimation and Simulation," Melbourne Institute Working Paper Series wp2003n16, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne.
  4. Ugo Colombino & Steinar Strøm & Rolf Aaberge, 2000. "Labor supply responses and welfare effects from replacing current tax rules by a flat tax: Empirical evidence from Italy, Norway and Sweden," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 13(4), pages 595-621.
  5. Philippe Choné & David le Blanc & Isabelle Robert-Bobée, 2003. "Female Labor Supply and Child Care in France," CESifo Working Paper Series 1059, CESifo Group Munich.
  6. Bruce D. Meyer & Dan T. Rosenbaum, 2001. "Welfare, The Earned Income Tax Credit, And The Labor Supply Of Single Mothers," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 116(3), pages 1063-1114, August.
  7. Immervoll, Herwig & Kleven, Henrik Jacobsen & Kreiner, Claus Thustrup & Saez, Emmanuel, 2004. "Welfare reform in European countries: a micro-simulation analysis," EUROMOD Working Papers EM1/04, EUROMOD at the Institute for Social and Economic Research.
  8. Richard Blundell & Alan Duncan & Julian McCrae & Costas Meghir, 2000. "The labour market impact of the working families’ tax credit," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 21(1), pages 75-103, March.
  9. Bradley T. Heim, 2009. "Structural Estimation of Family Labor Supply with Taxes: Estimating a Continuous Hours Model Using a Direct Utility Specification," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 44(2).
  10. Paul J. Devereux, 2004. "Changes in Relative Wages and Family Labor Supply," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(3).
  11. Immervoll, Herwig & Kleven, Henrik Jacobsen & Kreiner, Claus Thustrup & Verdelin, Nicolaj, 2008. "An evaluation of the tax-transfer treatment of married couples in European countries," EUROMOD Working Papers EM7/08, EUROMOD at the Institute for Social and Economic Research.
  12. Arthur van Soest, 1995. "Structural Models of Family Labor Supply: A Discrete Choice Approach," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 30(1), pages 63-88.
  13. Flood, Lennart & Hansen, Jörgen & Wahlberg, Roger, 1999. "Household Labor Supply and Welfare Participation in Sweden," Working Papers in Economics 18, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
  14. José M. Labeaga & Xisco Oliver & Amadéo Spadaro, 2005. "Discrete choice models of labour suppluy, behavioural microsimulation and the Spanish tax reform," PSE Working Papers halshs-00590836, HAL.
  15. Nada Eissa, 1995. "Taxation and Labor Supply of Married Women: The Tax Reform Act of 1986 as a Natural Experiment," NBER Working Papers 5023, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Bargain, Olivier & Orsini, Kristian, 2006. "In-work policies in Europe: Killing two birds with one stone?," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(6), pages 667-697, December.
  17. Heim, Bradley T. & Meyer, Bruce D., 2004. "Work costs and nonconvex preferences in the estimation of labor supply models," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(11), pages 2323-2338, September.
  18. Richard Blundell & Mike Brewer & Peter Haan & Andrew Shephard, 2009. "Optimal Income Taxation of Lone Mothers: An Empirical Comparison of the UK and Germany," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 119(535), pages F101-F121, 02.
  19. Aaberge, Rolf & Dagsvik, John K & Strom, Steinar, 1995. " Labor Supply Responses and Welfare Effects of Tax Reforms," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 97(4), pages 635-59, December.
  20. A. Lans Bovenberg & Johan J. Graafland & Ruud A. de Mooij, 1998. "Tax Reform and the Dutch Labor Market: An Applied General Equilibrium Approach," NBER Working Papers 6693, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  21. N. S. Blomquist & U. Hansson-Brusewitz, 1990. "The Effect of Taxes on Male and Female Labor Supply in Sweden," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 25(3), pages 317-357.
  22. Anna Brink & Katarina Nordblom & Roger Wahlberg, 2007. "Maximum fee versus child benefit: a welfare analysis of Swedish child-care fee reform," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 14(4), pages 457-480, August.
  23. Laura Crespo, 2005. "Estimation And Testing Of Household Labour Supply Models: Evidence From Spain," Working Papers. Serie AD 2005-03, Instituto Valenciano de Investigaciones Económicas, S.A. (Ivie).
  24. Victor R. Fuchs & Alan B. Krueger & James M. Poterba, 1998. "Economists' Views about Parameters, Values, and Policies: Survey Results in Labor and Public Economics," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(3), pages 1387-1425, September.
  25. Helene Dearing & Helmut Hofer & Christine Lietz & Rudolf Winter-Ebmer & Katharina Wrohlich, 2007. "Why are mothers working longer hours in Austria than in Germany? A comparative micro simulation analysis," Economics working papers 2007-11, Department of Economics, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria.
  26. Richard Blundell & Alan Duncan & Costas Meghir, 1995. "Estimating labour supply responses using tax reforms," IFS Working Papers W95/07, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  27. Kimmel, Jean & Kniesner, Thomas J., 1998. "New evidence on labor supply:: Employment versus hours elasticities by sex and marital status," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(2), pages 289-301, July.
  28. repec:fda:fdaddt:2005-14 is not listed on IDEAS
  29. Pierre‐Carl Michaud & Konstantinos Tatsiramos, 2011. "Fertility and female employment dynamics in Europe: the effect of using alternative econometric modeling assumptions," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 26(4), pages 641-668, 06.
  30. Tim Callan & Arthur van Soest & John R. Walsh, 2009. "Tax Structure and Female Labour Supply: Evidence from Ireland," LABOUR, CEIS, vol. 23(1), pages 1-35, 03.
  31. Daniel Feenberg & Elisabeth Coutts, 1993. "An introduction to the TAXSIM model," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 12(1), pages 189-194.
  32. repec:pse:psecon:2005-13 is not listed on IDEAS
  33. Jaume García & María José Suárez, 2003. "Female labour supply and income taxation in Spain: The importance of behavioural assumptions and unobserved heterogeneity specification," Hacienda Pública Española, IEF, vol. 164(1), pages 9-27, march.
  34. Eissa, Nada & Liebman, Jeffrey B, 1996. "Labor Supply Response to the Earned Income Tax Credit," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 111(2), pages 605-37, May.
  35. 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).
  36. Bargain, Olivier & Caliendo, Marco & Haan, Peter & Orsini, Kristian, 2006. "'Making Work Pay' in a Rationed Labour Market," IZA Discussion Papers 2033, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  37. Kristian Orsini, 2006. "Tax-benefits reforms and the labor market: evidence from Belgium and other EU countries," Center for Economic Studies - Discussion papers ces0606, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Centrum voor Economische Studiën.
  38. Heckman, James J, 1993. "What Has Been Learned about Labor Supply in the Past Twenty Years?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(2), pages 116-21, May.
  39. Bas Jacobs, 2009. "Is Prescott right? Welfare state policies and the incentives to work, learn, and retire," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 16(2), pages 253-280, April.
  40. Peichl, Andreas & Siegloch, Sebastian, 2010. "Accounting for Labor Demand Effects in Structural Labor Supply Models," IZA Discussion Papers 5350, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  41. Nina Smith & Shirley Dex & Jan Dirk Vlasblom & Tim Callan, 2003. "The effects of taxation on married women's labour supply across four countries," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 55(3), pages 417-439, July.
  42. Thomas MaCurdy & David Green & Harry Paarsch, 1990. "Assessing Empirical Approaches for Analyzing Taxes and Labor Supply," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 25(3), pages 415-490.
  43. Mark N. Harris & Alan Duncan, 2002. "Intransigencies in the Labour Supply Choice," Melbourne Institute Working Paper Series wp2002n17, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne.
  44. 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.
  45. François Bourguignon & Thierry Magnac, 1990. "Labor Supply and Taxation in France," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 25(3), pages 358-389.
  46. Hilary Hoynes, 1993. "Welfare Transfers in Two-Parent Families: Labor Supply and Welfare Participation Under AFDC-UP," NBER Working Papers 4407, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  47. repec:iab:iabzaf:v:41:i:4:p:431-446 is not listed on IDEAS
  48. Eissa, Nada & Hoynes, Hilary Williamson, 2004. "Taxes and the labor market participation of married couples: the earned income tax credit," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(9-10), pages 1931-1958, August.
  49. Michiel Evers & Ruud Mooij & Daniel Vuuren, 2008. "The Wage Elasticity of Labour Supply: A Synthesis of Empirical Estimates," De Economist, Springer, vol. 156(1), pages 25-43, March.
  50. Iván Fernández Val, 2003. "Household labor supply: evidence for Spain," Investigaciones Economicas, Fundación SEPI, vol. 27(2), pages 239-275, May.
  51. Kelly Bishop & Bradley Heim & Kata Mihaly, 2009. "Single Women's Labor Supply Elasticities: Trends and Policy Implications," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 63(1), pages 146, October.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp5820. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Mark Fallak)

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 references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link 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 profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

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

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.