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Comparing Labor Supply Elasticities in Europe and the US: New Results

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  • Bargain, Olivier

    () (University of Bordeaux)

  • Orsini, Kristian

    () (KU Leuven)

  • Peichl, Andreas

    () (Ifo Institute for Economic Research)

Abstract

We suggest the first large-scale international comparison of labor supply elasticities for 17 European countries and the US, separately by gender and marital status. Measurement differences are netted out by using a harmonized empirical approach and comparable data sources. We find that own-wage elasticities are relatively small and much more uniform across countries than previously thought. Differences exist nonetheless and are found not to arise from different tax-benefit systems or demographic compositions across countries. Thus, we cannot reject that countries have genuinely different preferences. Three other results, important for welfare analysis, are consistent over all countries: the extensive (participation) margin dominates the intensive (hours) margin; for singles, this leads to larger labor supply responses in low-income groups; income elasticities are extremely small everywhere. Finally, the results for cross-wage elasticities in couples are opposed between regions, consistent with complementarity in spouses' leisure in the US versus substitution in spouses' household production in Europe.

Suggested Citation

  • Bargain, Olivier & Orsini, Kristian & Peichl, Andreas, 2012. "Comparing Labor Supply Elasticities in Europe and the US: New Results," IZA Discussion Papers 6735, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp6735
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    Keywords

    taxation; elasticity; household labor supply; Europe; US;

    JEL classification:

    • C25 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Discrete Regression and Qualitative Choice Models; Discrete Regressors; Proportions; Probabilities
    • C52 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric Modeling - - - Model Evaluation, Validation, and Selection
    • H31 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - Household
    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply

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