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Five Issues in the Design of Income Support Mechanisms: The Case of Italy

  • Colombino, Ugo

    ()

    (University of Turin)

Differently from most European countries and despite the recommendations on the part of the European Commission, Italy still misses a sufficiently systematic and nationwide mechanism of income support. In this paper we want to explore the feasibility, the desirability and the features of a universal policy of minimum income in Italy. We use a microeconometric model and a social welfare methodology in order to evaluate various alternatives mechanisms. We simulate the effects and the social welfare performance of 30 reforms resulting from six versions of five basic types of income support mechanism: guaranteed minimum income (GMI), universal basic income (UBI), wage subsidy (WS) and two mixed systems: GMI+WS and UBI+WS. As welfare evaluation criteria we adopt the Gini Social Welfare function and the Poverty-Adjusted Gini Social Welfare function. All the reforms are calibrated so as to preserve fiscal neutrality. The simulation adopts a methodology that allows for market equilibrium and ensures a consistent comparative statics interpretation of the results. Universal and non mean-tested transfers (possibly complemented by wage subsidy) emerge as desirable and feasible features of the income support mechanism. In the most realistic scenarios, the social-welfare-optimal policies are a modest unconditional transfer amounting to 40% of the poverty line complemented by a 10% wage subsidy or – depending on the social welfare criterion – a more generous unconditional transfer (100% of the poverty line). The reforms can be financed by proportionally increasing the current marginal tax rates and widening the tax base to include all personal incomes. The set of universalistic policies that are preferable to the current system is very large and gives the opportunity of selecting a best reform according to many different criteria.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 6059.

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Length: 47 pages
Date of creation: Oct 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp6059
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  1. Peter Diamond & Emmanuel Saez, 2011. "The Case for a Progressive Tax: From Basic Research to Policy Recommendations," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 25(4), pages 165-90, Fall.
  2. Peter Haan & Katharina Wrohlich, 2007. "Optimal Taxation: The Design of Child Related Cash- and In-Kind-Benefits," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 737, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  3. Rolf Aaberge & Ugo Colombino, 2006. "Designing Optimal Taxes with a Microeconometric Model of Household Labour Supply," ICER Working Papers 37-2006, ICER - International Centre for Economic Research.
  4. Gruber, Jon & Saez, Emmanuel, 2002. "The elasticity of taxable income: evidence and implications," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(1), pages 1-32, April.
  5. Saez, Emmanuel, 2001. "Using Elasticities to Derive Optimal Income Tax Rates," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 68(1), pages 205-29, January.
  6. Diamond, Peter A, 1998. "Optimal Income Taxation: An Example with a U-Shaped Pattern of Optimal Marginal Tax Rates," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(1), pages 83-95, March.
  7. Dagsvik, John K, 2000. "Aggregation in Matching Markets," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 41(1), pages 27-57, February.
  8. Ugo Colombino, 2010. "Equilibrium policy simulations with random utility models of labour supply," Carlo Alberto Notebooks 156, Collegio Carlo Alberto.
  9. Tom Kornstad & Thor Thoresen, 2007. "A discrete choice model for labor supply and childcare," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 20(4), pages 781-803, October.
  10. Steinar Str�m & John K. Dagsvik, 2006. "Sectoral labour supply, choice restrictions and functional form," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 21(6), pages 803-826.
  11. Herwig Immervoll & Henrik Jacobsen Kleven & Claus Thustrup Kreiner & Emmanuel Saez, 2005. "Welfare Reform in European Countries: A Microsimulation Analysis," OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers 28, OECD Publishing.
  12. Rolf Aaberge & Ugo Colombino & Tom Wennemo, 2006. "Evaluating alternative representations of the choice sets in models of labour supply," ICER Working Papers 2-2006, ICER - International Centre for Economic Research.
  13. John Creedy & Guyonne Kalb, 2005. "Discrete Hours Labour Supply Modelling: Specification, Estimation and Simulation," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 19(5), pages 697-734, December.
  14. Atkinson, A B, 1987. "On the Measurement of Poverty," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(4), pages 749-64, July.
  15. François Bourguignon & Amedeo Spadaro, 2006. "Microsimulation as a Tool for Evaluating Redistribution Policies," Working Papers 20, ECINEQ, Society for the Study of Economic Inequality.
  16. Colombino, Ugo & Locatelli, Marilena & Narazani, Edlira & O'Donoghue, Cathal, 2010. "Alternative Basic Income Mechanisms: An Evaluation Exercise with a Microeconometric Model," IZA Discussion Papers 4781, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  17. John Creedy & Alan Duncan, 2001. "Aggregating labour supply and feedback effects in microsimulation," IFS Working Papers W01/24, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  18. Rolf Aaberge & Ugo Colombino, 2011. "Empirical Optimal Income Taxation: A Microeconometric Application to Norway," CHILD Working Papers wp16_11, CHILD - Centre for Household, Income, Labour and Demographic economics - ITALY.
  19. Sen, Amartya, 1974. "Informational bases of alternative welfare approaches : Aggregation and income distribution," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 387-403, November.
  20. Dagsvik, John K, 1994. "Discrete and Continuous Choice, Max-Stable Processes, and Independence from Irrelevant Attributes," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(5), pages 1179-1205, September.
  21. McFadden, Daniel, 1974. "The measurement of urban travel demand," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 303-328, November.
  22. King, Mervyn A., 1983. "Welfare analysis of tax reforms using household data," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(2), pages 183-214, July.
  23. Aaberge, Rolf & Colombino, Ugo & Strøm, Steinar, 2003. "Do More Equal Slices Shrink the Cake? An Empirical Investigation of Tax-Transfer Reform Proposals in Italy," Memorandum 37/2003, Oslo University, Department of Economics.
  24. Guyonne R. Kalb, 2000. "Labour Supply and Welfare Participation in Australian Two-Adult Households: Accounting for Involuntary Unemployment and the 'Cost' of Part-time Work," Centre of Policy Studies/IMPACT Centre Working Papers bp-35, Victoria University, Centre of Policy Studies/IMPACT Centre.
  25. Emmanuel Saez, 2002. "Optimal Income Transfer Programs: Intensive Versus Extensive Labor Supply Responses," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 117(3), pages 1039-1073, August.
  26. 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.
  27. 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.
  28. 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.
  29. Aaberge, Rolf & Colombino, Ugo & Strom, Steinar, 1999. "Labour Supply in Italy: An Empirical Analysis of Joint Household Decisions, with Taxes and Quantity Constraints," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 14(4), pages 403-22, July-Aug..
  30. Colombino, Ugo, 1998. "Evaluating the effects of new telephone tariffs on residential users' demand and welfare. A model for Italy," Information Economics and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 10(3), pages 283-303, September.
  31. Sen, Amartya K, 1976. "Real National Income," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 43(1), pages 19-39, February.
  32. Duncan, Alan & Giles, Christopher, 1996. "Labour Supply Incentives and Recent Family Credit Reforms," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 106(434), pages 142-55, January.
  33. repec:rie:review:v:14:y:2009:i:1:n:1 is not listed on IDEAS
  34. repec:rie:review:v:14:y:2009:i:1:n:2 is not listed on IDEAS
  35. Meade, James E, 1972. "Poverty in the Welfare State," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 24(3), pages 289-326, November.
  36. Standing Guy, 2008. "How Cash Transfers Promote the Case for Basic Income," Basic Income Studies, De Gruyter, vol. 3(1), pages 1-30, July.
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