IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this paper

Comparing Inequality Aversion across Countries When Labor Supply Responses Differ

  • Bargain, Olivier


    (Aix-Marseille University)

  • Dolls, Mathias


    (ZEW Mannheim)

  • Neumann, Dirk


    (Université catholique de Louvain)

  • Peichl, Andreas


    (ZEW Mannheim)

  • Siegloch, Sebastian


    (University of Mannheim)

We analyze to which extent social inequality aversion differs across nations when control- ling for actual country differences in labor supply responses. Towards this aim, we estimate labor supply elasticities at both extensive and intensive margins for 17 EU countries and the US. Using the same data, inequality aversion is measured as the degree of redistribution implicit in current tax-benefit systems, when these systems are deemed optimal. We find relatively small differences in labor supply elasticities across countries. However, this changes the cross-country ranking in inequality aversion compared to scenarios following the standard approach of using uniform elasticities. Differences in redistributive views are significant between three groups of nations. Labor supply responses are systematically larger at the extensive margin and often larger for the lowest earnings groups, exacerbating the implicit Rawlsian views for countries with traditional social assistance programs. Given the possibility that labor supply responsiveness was underestimated at the time these programs were implemented, we show that such wrong perceptions would lead to less pronounced and much more similar levels of inequality aversion.

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 7215.

in new window

Length: 53 pages
Date of creation: Feb 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp7215
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. Michael P. Keane & Richard Rogerson, 2011. "Reconciling Micro and Macro Labor Supply Elasticities: A Structural Perspective," NBER Working Papers 17430, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Lucy F. Ackert & Jorge Martinez-Vazquez & Mark Rider, 2007. "Social Preferences And Tax Policy Design: Some Experimental Evidence," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 45(3), pages 487-501, 07.
  3. Ravi Kanbur & Jukka Pirttilä & Matti Tuomala, 2004. "Non-Welfarist Optimal Taxation and Behavioral Public Economics," CESifo Working Paper Series 1291, CESifo Group Munich.
  4. Ahmad, Ehtisham & Stern, Nicholas, 1984. "The theory of reform and indian indirect taxes," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(3), pages 259-298, December.
  5. Boone, J. & Bovenberg, A.L., 2004. "The optimal taxation of unskilled labor with job search and social assistance," Other publications TiSEM 23eaec1d-2ceb-483e-98a9-e, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
  6. Hoynes, Hilary Williamson, 1996. "Welfare Transfers in Two-Parent Families: Labor Supply and Welfare Participation under AFDC-UP," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 64(2), pages 295-332, March.
  7. Olivier Bargain & Kristian Orsini & Andreas Peichl, 2012. "Comparing Labor Supply Elasticities in Europe and the US: New Results," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 525, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  8. Amedeo Spadaro, 2008. "Optimal taxation, social contract and the four worlds of welfare capitalism," Working Papers 98, ECINEQ, Society for the Study of Economic Inequality.
  9. Peter Gottschalk & Timothy M. Smeeding, 1997. "Cross-National Comparisons of Earnings and Income Inequality," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 35(2), pages 633-687, June.
  10. 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.
  11. Corneo, Giacomo & Grüner, Hans Peter, 2001. "Individual Preferences for Political Redistribution," CEPR Discussion Papers 2694, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  12. Eissa, Nada & Hoynes, Hilary, 2011. "Redistribution And Tax Expenditures: The Earned Income Tax Credit," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 64(2), pages 689-729, June.
  13. Lambert, Peter J. & Millimet, Daniel L. & Slottje, Daniel, 2003. "Inequality aversion and the natural rate of subjective inequality," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(5-6), pages 1061-1090, May.
  14. van Soest, A.H.O. & Das, J.W.M., 2000. "Family labor supply and proposed tax reforms in the Netherlands," Other publications TiSEM 57d9aef0-cc35-4fb2-9be2-d, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
  15. Herwig Immervoll, 2007. "Minimum Wages, Minimum Labour Costs and the Tax Treatment of Low-Wage Employment," OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers 46, OECD Publishing.
  16. Immervoll, Herwig & Kleven, Henrik Jacobsen & Kreiner, Claus Thustrup & Saez, Emmanuel, 2005. "Welfare Reform in European Countries: A Microsimulation Analysis," IZA Discussion Papers 1810, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  17. Micael Castanheira & Gaëtan J.A. Nicodème & Paola Profeta, 2011. "On the Political Economics of Tax Reforms," CESifo Working Paper Series 3538, CESifo Group Munich.
  18. 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.
  19. Bargain, Olivier & Orsini, Kristian & Peichl, Andreas, 2011. "Labor Supply Elasticities in Europe and the US," IZA Discussion Papers 5820, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  20. Ravi Kanbur & Matti Tuomala, 2011. "Charitable conservatism, poverty radicalism and inequality aversion," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 9(3), pages 417-431, September.
  21. Bargain, Olivier & Decoster, André & Dolls, Mathias & Neumann, Dirk & Peichl, Andreas & Siegloch, Sebastian, 2011. "Welfare, Labor Supply and Heterogeneous Preferences: Evidence for Europe and the US," IZA Discussion Papers 6102, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  22. Fong, Christina, 2001. "Social preferences, self-interest, and the demand for redistribution," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 82(2), pages 225-246, November.
  23. Thomas W. Ross, 1984. "Uncovering Regulators' Social Welfare Weights," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 15(1), pages 152-155, Spring.
  24. Euwals, R.W. & van Soest, A.H.O., 1996. "Desired and Actual Labour Supply of Unmarried Men and Women in the Netherlands," Discussion Paper 1996-23, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  25. Isaksson, Ann-Sofie & Lindskog, Annika, 2009. "Preferences for redistribution--A country comparison of fairness judgements," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 72(3), pages 884-902, December.
  26. Giacomo Corneo & Christina M. Fong, 2006. "What’s the Monetary Value of Distributive Justice?," CESifo Working Paper Series 1706, CESifo Group Munich.
  27. Jean-Yves Duclos, 2000. "Gini Indices and the Redistribution of Income," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 7(2), pages 141-162, March.
  28. Micael Castanheira & Gaëtan Nicodème & Paola Profeta, 2012. "On the political economics of tax reforms: survey and empirical assessment," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 19(4), pages 598-624, August.
  29. Fehr, Ernst & Schmidt, Klaus M., 1998. "A Theory of Fairness, Competition and Cooperation," CEPR Discussion Papers 1812, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  30. Kristian Orsini, 2006. "Is Belgium 'making work pay'?," Working Papers Department of Economics ces0605, KU Leuven, Faculty of Economics and Business, Department of Economics.
  31. Fleurbaey, Marc, 2012. "Fairness, Responsibility, and Welfare," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199653591, December.
  32. Emmanuel Saez, 2001. "Using Elasticities to Derive Optimal Income Tax Rates," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 68(1), pages 205-229.
  33. André DECOSTER & Erik SHCOKKAERT, 1989. "Equity and efficiency of a reform of Belgian indirect taxes," Discussion Papers (REL - Recherches Economiques de Louvain) 1989023, Université catholique de Louvain, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES).
  34. Amiel, Yoram & Creedy, John & Hurn, Stan, 1999. " Measuring Attitudes towards Inequality," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 101(1), pages 83-96, March.
  35. Thomas Piketty, 1995. "Social Mobility and Redistributive Politics," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 110(3), pages 551-584.
  36. Daron Acemoglu & Mikhail Golosov & Aleh Tsyvinski, 2010. "Dynamic Mirrlees Taxation under Political Economy Constraints," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 77(3), pages 841-881.
  37. 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.
  38. François Bourguignon & Amadéo Spadaro, 2012. "Tax-benefit revealed social preferences," PSE - Labex "OSE-Ouvrir la Science Economique" halshs-00754607, HAL.
  39. Olivier Bargain & Amedeo Spadaro, 2008. "Optimal taxation, social contract and the four worlds of welfare capitalism," Working Papers 200816, School of Economics, University College Dublin.
  40. Nada Eissa & Henrik Jacobsen Kleven & Claus Thustrup Kreiner, 2004. "Evaluation of Four Tax Reforms in the United States: Labor Supply and Welfare Effects for Single Mothers," NBER Working Papers 10935, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  41. Diamond, P., 1980. "Income taxation with fixed hours of work," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(1), pages 101-110, February.
  42. Christiansen, Vidar & Jansen, Eilev S., 1978. "Implicit social preferences in the Norwegian system of indirect taxation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(2), pages 217-245, October.
  43. repec:hal:wpaper:halshs-00586290 is not listed on IDEAS
  44. Grosfeld, Irena & Senik, Claudia, 2010. "The emerging aversion to inequality - Evidence from subjective data," CEPREMAP Working Papers (Docweb) 1006, CEPREMAP.
  45. Samuel Bentolila & Andrea Ichino, 2008. "Unemployment and consumption near and far away from the Mediterranean," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 21(2), pages 255-280, April.
  46. James Banks & R Disney & Alan Duncan & John Van Reenen, 2004. "The Internationalisation of Public Welfare Policy," CEP Discussion Papers dp0656, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  47. 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.
  48. Nada Eissa & Jeffrey B. Liebman, 1995. "Labor Supply Response to the Earned Income Tax Credit," NBER Working Papers 5158, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  49. Emmanuel Saez, 2002. "Optimal Income Transfer Programs: Intensive versus Extensive Labor Supply Responses," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(3), pages 1039-1073.
  50. 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.
  51. David Madden, 1995. "An analysis of indirect tax reform in Ireland in the 1980s," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 16(1), pages 18-37, May.
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:dp7215. 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.