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Sick of Taxes? Evidence on the Elasticity of Labor Supply when Workers Are Free to Choose

  • Martin Ljunge

    (University of Copenhagen and SITE)

I estimate a price elasticity of sickness absence. Sick leave is an intensive margin of labor supply where individuals are free to adjust. I exploit variation in tax rates over two decades, which provide thousands of differential incentives across time and space, to estimate the price responsiveness. High taxes provide an incentive to take more sick leave, as less after tax income is lost when taxes are high. The panel data, which is representative of the Swedish population, allow for extensive controls including unobserved individual characteristics. I find a substantial price elasticity of sick leave, -0.7, with respect to the net of tax rate. Though large relative to traditional labor supply elasticities, Swedes are half as price elastic as bike messengers, and just as elastic as stadium vendors on the margin which they can adjust freely.

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File URL: http://www.econ.ku.dk/english/research/publications/wp/dp_2011/1127.pdf
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Paper provided by University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics in its series Discussion Papers with number 11-27.

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Length: 37 pages
Date of creation: 18 Oct 2011
Handle: RePEc:kud:kuiedp:1127
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  1. Patrick A. Puhani & Katja Sonderhof, 2009. "The Effects of a Sick Pay Reform on Absence and on Health-Related Outcomes," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 248, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
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  4. Tim A. Barmby & Marco G. Ercolani & John G. Treble, 2002. "Sickness Absence: An International Comparison," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(480), pages F315-F331, June.
  5. Per Pettersson-Lidbom & Peter Skogman Thoursie, 2013. "Temporary Disability Insurance and Labor Supply: Evidence from a Natural Experiment," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 115(2), pages 485-507, 04.
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  7. Shulamit Kahn & Kevin Lang, 1988. "The Effects of Hours Constraints on Labor Supply Estimates," NBER Working Papers 2647, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. David H. Autor & Mark G. Duggan, 2003. "The Rise in the Disability Rolls and the Decline in Unemployment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(1), pages 157-206.
  9. Gerald S. Oettinger, 1999. "An Empirical Analysis of the Daily Labor Supply of Stadium Vendors," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(2), pages 360-392, April.
  10. Ernst Fehr & Lorenz Goette, 2007. "Do Workers Work More if Wages Are High? Evidence from a Randomized Field Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(1), pages 298-317, March.
  11. Henrekson, Magnus & Persson, Mats, 2001. "The Effects on Sick Leave of Changes in the Sickness Insurance System," SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance 0444, Stockholm School of Economics, revised 08 Aug 2001.
  12. Martin Ljunge, 2012. "The Spirit of the Welfare State? Adaptation in the Demand for Social Insurance," Journal of Human Capital, University of Chicago Press, vol. 6(3), pages 187 - 223.
  13. Nicolas R. Ziebarth & Martin Karlsson, 2009. "A Natural Experiment on Sick Pay Cuts, Sickness Absence, and Labor Costs," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 244, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  14. Susan Chen & Wilbert van der Klaauw, 2006. "The Work Disincentive Effects of the Disability Insurance Program in the 1990s," Working Papers 06-05, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  15. Bruce D. Meyer & W. Kip Viscusi & David L. Durbin, 1990. "Workers' Compensation and Injury Duration: Evidence from a Natural Experiment," NBER Working Papers 3494, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Richard Blundell & Thomas MaCurdy, 1998. "Labour supply: a review of alternative approaches," IFS Working Papers W98/18, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  17. Botond Koszegi & Matthew Rabin, 2004. "A Model of Reference-Dependent Preferences," Method and Hist of Econ Thought 0407001, EconWPA.
  18. Johansson, Per & Palme, Marten, 2005. "Moral hazard and sickness insurance," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(9-10), pages 1879-1890, September.
  19. John Bound, 1989. "The Health and Earnings of Rejected Disability Insurance Applicants," NBER Working Papers 2816, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. Johansson, Per & Palme, Mårten, 2001. "Assessing the effect of public policy on worker absenteeism," Working Paper Series 2002:13, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.
  21. MaCurdy, Thomas E, 1981. "An Empirical Model of Labor Supply in a Life-Cycle Setting," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(6), pages 1059-1085, December.
  22. Bound, John & Burkhauser, Richard V., 1999. "Economic analysis of transfer programs targeted on people with disabilities," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 51, pages 3417-3528 Elsevier.
  23. William P. Curington, 1994. "Compensation for Permanent Impairment and the Duration of Work Absence: Evidence from Four Natural Experiments," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 29(3), pages 888-910.
  24. Johansson, Per & Palme, Marten, 1996. "Do economic incentives affect work absence? Empirical evidence using Swedish micro data," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 59(2), pages 195-218, February.
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