IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/kud/epruwp/08-03.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

An Evaluation of the Tax-Transfer Treatment of Married Couples in European Countries

Author

Listed:
  • Herwig Immervoll

    (OECD)

  • Henrik Jacobsen Kleven

    (London School of Economics)

  • Claus Thustrup Kreiner

    (Department of Economics, University of Copenhagen)

  • Nicolaj Verdelin

    (Department of Economics, University of Copenhagen)

Abstract

This paper presents an evaluation of the tax-transfer treatment of married couples in 15 EU countries using the EUROMOD microsimulation model. First, we show that many tax-transfer schemes in Europe feature negative jointness defined as a situation where the tax rate on one person depends negatively on the earnings of the spouse. This stands in contrast to the previous literature on this question, which has focused on a specific form of positive jointness. The presence of negative jointness is driven by family-based and means-tested transfer programs combined with tax systems that usually feature very little jointness. Second, we consider the labor supply distortion on secondary earners relative to primary earners implied by the current tax-transfer systems, and study the welfare effects of small reforms that change the relative taxation of spouses. By adopting a small-reform methodology, it is possible to set out a simple analysis based on more realistic labor supply models than those considered in the existing literature. We present microsimulations showing that simple revenue-neutral reforms that lower the tax burden on secondary earners are associated with substantial welfare gains in most countries. Finally, we consider the tax-transfer implications of marriage and estimate the so-called marriage penalty. For most countries, we find large marriage penalties at the bottom of the distribution driven primarily by features of the transfer system.

Suggested Citation

  • Herwig Immervoll & Henrik Jacobsen Kleven & Claus Thustrup Kreiner & Nicolaj Verdelin, 2008. "An Evaluation of the Tax-Transfer Treatment of Married Couples in European Countries," EPRU Working Paper Series 08-03, Economic Policy Research Unit (EPRU), University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:kud:epruwp:08-03
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.econ.ku.dk/eprn_epru/Workings_Papers/wp-08-03.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Williamson Hoyne, Hilary, 1997. "Does welfare play any role in female headship decisions?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(2), pages 89-117, August.
    2. Alm, James & Whittington, Leslie A., 1996. "The Rise and Fall and Rise ... of the Marriage Tax," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 49(4), pages 571-89, December.
    3. Henrik Jacobsen Kleven & Claus Thustrup Kreiner & Emmanuel Saez, 2007. "The Optimal Income Taxation of Couples as a Multi-Dimensional Screening Problem," CESifo Working Paper Series 2092, CESifo Group Munich.
    4. Helmuth Cremer & Jean-Marie Lozachmeur & Pierre Pestieau, 2012. "Income taxation of couples and the tax unit choice," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 25(2), pages 763-778, January.
    5. 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.
    6. Boskin, Michael J. & Sheshinski, Eytan, 1983. "Optimal tax treatment of the family: Married couples," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(3), pages 281-297, April.
    7. Mirrlees, J. A., 1976. "Optimal tax theory : A synthesis," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(4), pages 327-358, November.
    8. Browning, Edgar K & Johnson, William R, 1984. "The Trade-Off between Equality and Efficiency," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 92(2), pages 175-203, April.
    9. Marianne Bitler & Jonah Gelbach & Hilary Hoynes & Madeline Zavodny, 2004. "The impact of welfare reform on marriage and divorce," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 41(2), pages 213-236, May.
    10. Craig Brett, 2007. "Optimal nonlinear taxes for families," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 14(3), pages 225-261, June.
    11. Herwig Immervoll, 2004. "Average and Marginal Effective Tax Rates Facing Workers in the EU: A Micro-Level Analysis of Levels, Distributions and Driving Factors," OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers 19, OECD Publishing.
    12. Alm, James & Whittington, Leslie A., 1996. "The Rise and Fall and Rise ... Of the Marriage Tax," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 49(4), pages 571-589, December.
    13. Blundell, Richard & Macurdy, Thomas, 1999. "Labor supply: A review of alternative approaches," Handbook of Labor Economics,in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 27, pages 1559-1695 Elsevier.
    14. Alm, James & Whittington, Leslie A., 1995. "Does the Income Tax Affect Marital Decisions?," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 48(4), pages 565-72, December.
    15. Alberto Alesina & Andrea Ichino & Loukas Karabarbounis, 2011. "Gender-Based Taxation and the Division of Family Chores," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 3(2), pages 1-40, May.
    16. Hilary Williamson Hoynes, 1996. "Work, Welfare, and Family Structure: What Have We Learned?," NBER Working Papers 5644, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    17. James Alm & Stacy Dickert-Conlin & Leslie A. Whittington, 1999. "Policy Watch: The Marriage Penalty," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 13(3), pages 193-204, Summer.
    18. Herwig Immervoll & Henrik Jacobsen Kleven & Claus Thustrup Kreiner & Emmanuel Saez, 2007. "Welfare reform in European countries: a microsimulation analysis," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 117(516), pages 1-44, January.
    19. Herwig Immervoll & Cathal O’Donoghue, 2003. "Employment Transitions in 13 European Countries. Levels, Distributions and Determining Factors of Net Replacement Rates," CESifo Working Paper Series 1091, CESifo Group Munich.
    20. H. W. Hoynes, "undated". "Does welfare play any role in female headship decisions?," Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Papers 1078-95, University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty.
    21. Dickert-Conlin, Stacy & Houser, Scott, 1998. "Taxes and Transfers: A New Look at the Marriage Penalty," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 51(n. 2), pages 175-217, June.
    22. Harvey S. Rosen, 1987. "The Marriage Tax is Down But Not Out," NBER Working Papers 2231, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    23. 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.
    24. 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.
    25. Feenberg, Daniel R. & Rosen, Harvey S., 1995. "Recent Developments in the Marriage Tax," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 48(1), pages 91-101, March.
    26. Alm, James & Whittington, Leslie A., 1995. "Does the Income Tax Affect Marital Decisions?," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 48(4), pages 565-572, December.
    27. Dickert-Conlin, Stacy & Houser, Scott, 1998. "Taxes and Transfers: A New Look at the Marriage Penalty," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 51(2), pages 175-217, June.
    28. Eissa, Nada & Kleven, Henrik Jacobsen & Kreiner, Claus Thustrup, 2008. "Evaluation of four tax reforms in the United States: Labor supply and welfare effects for single mothers," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(3-4), pages 795-816, April.
    29. Alm, James & Whittington, Leslie A, 1999. "For Love or Money? The Impact of Income Taxes on Marriage," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 66(263), pages 297-316, August.
    30. Armstrong, Mark & Rochet, Jean-Charles, 1999. "Multi-dimensional screening:: A user's guide," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 43(4-6), pages 959-979, April.
    31. Richard W. Blundell, 1995. "The Impact of Taxation on Labour Force Participation and Labour Supply," OECD Jobs Study Working Papers 8, OECD Publishing.
    32. Schroyen, Fred, 2003. "Redistributive taxation and the household: the case of individual filings," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(11), pages 2527-2547, October.
    33. Leslie A. Whittington & James Alm, 1997. "'Til Death or Taxes Do Us Part: The Effect of Income Taxation on Divorce," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 32(2), pages 388-412.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. 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).
    2. Bartels, Charlotte & Pestel, Nico, 2015. "The Impact of Short- and Long-Term Participation Tax Rates on Labor Supply," IZA Discussion Papers 9151, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    3. Olivier Bargain & Mathias Dolls & Dirk Neumann & Andreas Peichl & Sebastian Siegloch, 2011. "Tax-Benefit Systems in Europe and the US: Between Equity and Efficiency," CESifo Working Paper Series 3534, CESifo Group Munich.
    4. Immervoll, Herwig & Kleven, Henrik Jacobsen & Kreiner, Claus Thustrup & Verdelin, Nicolaj, 2011. "Optimal tax and transfer programs for couples with extensive labor supply responses," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(11), pages 1485-1500.
    5. Matthias Fahn & Ray Rees & Amelie Wuppermann, 2016. "Relational contracts for household formation, fertility choice and separation," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 29(2), pages 421-455, April.
    6. European Commission, 2011. "Tax Reforms in EU Member States 2011: tax policy challenges for economic growth and fiscal sustainability," Taxation Papers 28, Directorate General Taxation and Customs Union, European Commission.
    7. Eichhorst, Werner & Thode, Eric, 2009. "Vereinbarkeit von Familie und Beruf: Wie konsistent sind die Reformen?," IZA Discussion Papers 4294, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    8. Bartels, Charlotte & Pestel, Nico, 2016. "Short- and long-term participation tax rates and their impact on labor supply," EconStor Open Access Articles, ZBW - German National Library of Economics, pages 1126-1159.
    9. Fahn, Matthias, 2011. "Three Essays on Commitment and Information Problems," Munich Dissertations in Economics 13750, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
    10. Eichhorst, Werner & Thode, Eric, 2010. "Report No. 30: Vereinbarkeit von Familie und Beruf 2010," IZA Research Reports 30, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H20 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - General

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:kud:epruwp:08-03. 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: (Thomas Hoffmann). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/epcbsdk.html .

    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 CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc 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 RePEc Author Service 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.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.