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A Shred of Credible Evidence on the Long Run Elasticity of Labor Supply

Author

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  • Orley C. Ashenfelter
  • Kirk B. Doran
  • Bruce Schaller

Abstract

Virtually all public policies regarding taxation and the redistribution of income rely on explicit or implicit assumptions about the long run effect of wages rates on labor supply. The available estimates of the wage elasticity of male labor supply in the literature have varied between -0.2 and 0.2, implying that permanent wage increases have relatively small, poorly determined effects on labor supplied. The variation in existing estimates calls for a simple, natural experiment in which men can change their hours of work, and in which wages have been exogenously and permanently changed. We introduce a panel data set of taxi drivers who choose their own hours, and who experienced two exogenous permanent fare increases instituted by the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission, and we use these data to fit a simple structural labor supply function. Our estimates suggest that the elasticity of labor supply is about -0.2, implying that income effects dominate substitution effects in the long run labor supply of males.

Suggested Citation

  • Orley C. Ashenfelter & Kirk B. Doran & Bruce Schaller, 2010. "A Shred of Credible Evidence on the Long Run Elasticity of Labor Supply," NBER Working Papers 15746, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15746
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. John C. Ham, 1982. "Estimation of a Labour Supply Model with Censoring Due to Unemployment and Underemployment," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 49(3), pages 335-354.
    2. Richard Blundell & John Ham & Costas Meghir, 1989. "Unemployment and Female Labour Supply," Palgrave Macmillan Books, in: Joan Muysken & Chris Neubourg (ed.), Unemployment in Europe, chapter 1, pages 9-36, Palgrave Macmillan.
    3. 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.
    4. repec:eee:labchp:v:1:y:1986:i:c:p:3-102 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Pencavel, John, 1987. "Labor supply of men: A survey," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & R. Layard (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 1, pages 3-102, Elsevier.
    6. Burtless, Gary & Hausman, Jerry A, 1978. "The Effect of Taxation on Labor Supply: Evaluating the Gary Negative Income Tax Experiments," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 86(6), pages 1103-1130, December.
    7. Henry S. Farber, 2005. "Is Tomorrow Another Day? The Labor Supply of New York City Cabdrivers," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(1), pages 46-82, February.
    8. Altonji, Joseph G & Paxson, Christina H, 1988. "Labor Supply Preferences, Hours Constraints, and Hours-Wage Trade-Offs," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 6(2), pages 254-276, April.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Paul Scanlon, 2018. "Why Do People Work So Hard?," 2018 Meeting Papers 1206, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    2. Doran, Kirk, 2014. "Are long-term wage elasticities of labor supply more negative than short-term ones?," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 122(2), pages 208-210.
    3. Brodeur, Abel & Nield, Kerry, 2018. "An empirical analysis of taxi, Lyft and Uber rides: Evidence from weather shocks in NYC," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 152(C), pages 1-16.
    4. Berger, Thor & Chen, Chinchih & Frey, Carl Benedikt, 2018. "Drivers of disruption? Estimating the Uber effect," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 110(C), pages 197-210.
    5. John Pencavel, 2016. "Whose Preferences Are Revealed In Hours Of Work?," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 54(1), pages 9-24, January.
    6. Alexandre Mas & Amanda Pallais, 2019. "Labor Supply and the Value of Non-work Time: Experimental Estimates from the Field," American Economic Review: Insights, American Economic Association, vol. 1(1), pages 111-126, June.
    7. Francis Green & Alan Felstead & Duncan Gallie & Hande Inanc, 2016. "Job-Related Well-Being Through the Great Recession," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 17(1), pages 389-411, February.
    8. Pencavel, John, 2015. "The labor supply of self-employed workers: The choice of working hours in worker co-ops," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(3), pages 677-689.
    9. Soldatos, Gerasimos T. & Varelas, Erotokritos, 2017. "Firms’ rational expectations, workers’ psychology, and monetary policy in a behavioral real business cycle model," Economic Analysis and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 53(C), pages 129-139.
    10. Ignacio Álvarez & Natalia da Silva & Álvaro Forteza & Ianina Rossi, 2012. "Incentivos y patrones de retiro en Uruguay," Estudios Económicos, El Colegio de México, Centro de Estudios Económicos, vol. 27(2), pages 219-271.
    11. Rajgopal, Shivaram & White, Roger, 2019. "Cheating when in the hole: The case of New York city taxis," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 79(C).
    12. Francis Green & Alan Felstead & Duncan Gallie & Hande Inanc, 2016. "Job-Related Well-Being Through the Great Recession," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 17(1), pages 389-411, February.
    13. Eric J. Allen & Patricia M. Dechow & Devin G. Pope & George Wu, 2017. "Reference-Dependent Preferences: Evidence from Marathon Runners," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 63(6), pages 1657-1672, June.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H31 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - Household
    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply

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