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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
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:kud:kuiedp:1127
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  3. 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.
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  12. Camerer, Colin & Babcock, Linda & Loewenstein, George & Thaler, Richard, 1996. "Labor Supply of New York City Cab Drivers: One Day At A time," Working Papers 960, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
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  18. Ziebarth, Nicolas R. & Karlsson, Martin, 2010. "A natural experiment on sick pay cuts, sickness absence, and labor costs," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(11-12), pages 1108-1122, December.
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