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The Labor Market Effects of Payroll Taxes in a Middle-Income Country: Evidence from Colombia

  • Kugler, Adriana

    ()

    (Georgetown University)

  • Kugler, Maurice

    ()

    (United Nations Development Programme (UNDP))

We use a panel of manufacturing plants from Colombia to analyze how the rise in payroll tax rates over the 1980’s and 1990’s affected the labor market. Our estimates indicate that formal wages fall by between 1.4% and 2.3% as a result of a 10% rise in payroll taxes. This “less-than-full-shifting” is likely to be the result of weak linkages between benefits and taxes and the presence of downward wage rigidities induced by a binding minimum wage in Colombia. Because the costs of taxation are only partly shifted from employers to employees, employment should also fall. Our results indicate that a 10% increase in payroll taxes lowered formal employment by between 4% and 5%. In addition, we find less shifting and larger disemployment effects for production than non-production workers. These results suggest that policies aimed at boosting the relative demand of low-skill workers by reducing social security taxes on those with low earnings may be effective in a country like Colombia, especially if tax cuts are targeted to indirect benefits.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 852.

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Length: 34 pages
Date of creation: Aug 2003
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Economic Development and Cultural Change, 2009, 57(2), 335-358.
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp852
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  1. Adriana D. Kugler, 1999. "The impact of firing costs on turnover and unemployment: Evidence from the Colombian labour market reform," Economics Working Papers 388, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  2. Beach, Charles M & Balfour, Frederick S, 1983. "Estimated Payroll Tax Incidence and Aggregate Demand for Labour in the United Kingdom," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 50(197), pages 35-48, February.
  3. Angrist, Joshua D, 1996. "Short-Run Demand for Palestinian Labor," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 14(3), pages 425-53, July.
  4. Maurice Kugler & Howard Rosental, 2000. "Checks and balances: an assessment of the institutional separtion of political powers in Colombia," WORKING PAPERS SERIES. DOCUMENTOS DE TRABAJO 002117, FEDESARROLLO.
  5. Tullio, Giuseppe, 1987. "Long run implications of the increase in taxation and public debt for employment and economic growth in Europe," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 31(3), pages 741-774, April.
  6. Adriana Kugler & Juan F. Jimeno & Virginia Hernanz, . "Employment Consequences of Restrictive Permanent Contracts: Evidence from Spanish Labor Market Reforms," Working Papers 2003-14, FEDEA.
  7. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521481625 is not listed on IDEAS
  8. B Bell & Stephen Nickell, 1996. "Would Cutting Payroll Taxes on the Unskilled Have a Significant Effect on Unemployment?," CEP Discussion Papers dp0276, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  9. Jonathan Gruber, 1995. "The Incidence of Payroll Taxation: Evidence from Chile," NBER Working Papers 5053, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Nickell, Stephen & Layard, Richard, 1999. "Labor market institutions and economic performance," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 46, pages 3029-3084 Elsevier.
  11. Vroman, Wayne, 1974. "Employer Payroll Tax Incidence: Empirical Tests with Cross-Country Data," Public Finance = Finances publiques, , vol. 29(2), pages 184-200.
  12. Jonathan Gruber & Alan Krueger, 1990. "The Incidence of Mandated Employer-Provided Insurance: Lessons from Workers' Compensations Insurance," Working Papers 659, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  13. Fajnzylber, Pablo & Maloney, William F., 2000. "Labor demand andtrade reform in Latin America," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2491, The World Bank.
  14. Gruber, Jonathan, 1994. "The Incidence of Mandated Maternity Benefits," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(3), pages 622-41, June.
  15. Robert J. Gordon, 1972. "Wage-Price Controls and the Shifting Phillips Curve," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 3(2), pages 385-430.
  16. Holmlund, Bertil, 1983. "Payroll Taxes and Wage Inflation: The Swedish Experiences," Working Paper Series 68, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
  17. Kevin Lang, 2004. "The Effect of the Payroll Tax on Earnings: A Test of Competing Models of Wage Determination," Econometric Society 2004 North American Winter Meetings 360, Econometric Society.
  18. 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.
  19. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521484718 is not listed on IDEAS
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