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Taxation and Labor Supply of Married Women: The Tax Reform Act of 1986 as a Natural Experiment

  • Nada Eissa
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    This paper uses the Tax Reform Act of 1986 as a natural experiment to identify the labor supply responsiveness of married women to changes in the tax rate. The Tax Reform Act of 1986 reduced the top marginal tax rate by 44 percent (from 50 percent to 28 percent), but changed less the marginal tax rate for those further down the income distribution. I analyze the response of married women at or above the 99th percentile of the income distribution, using as a control group women from the 75th percentile of the income distribution. I therefore identify the tax effect as the difference between the change in labor supply of women with large tax rate reductions and the change in labor supply of women with small tax rate reductions. I find evidence that the labor supply of high-income, married women increased due to the Tax Reform Act of 1986. The increase in total labor supply of married women at the top of the income distribution (relative to married women at the 75th percentile of the income distribution) implies an elasticity with respect to the after- tax wage of approximately 0.8. At least half of this elasticity is due to labor force participation. Use of a second control group supports the participation response but is inconclusive on the hours of work response.

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    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w5023.pdf
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    Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 5023.

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    Date of creation: Feb 1995
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    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:5023
    Note: PE
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    1. Kooreman, P. & Kapteyn, A.J., 1989. "On the empirical implementation of some game theoretic models of household labor supply," Discussion Paper 1989-56, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
    2. Lawrence B. Lindsey, 1981. "Is the Maximum Tax on Earned Income Effective?," NBER Working Papers 0613, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Barry Bosworth & Gary Burtless, 1992. "Effects of Tax Reform on Labor Supply, Investment, and Saving," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 6(1), pages 3-25, Winter.
    4. Cogan, John F, 1981. "Fixed Costs and Labor Supply," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 49(4), pages 945-63, June.
    5. Robert K. Triest, 1990. "The Effect of Income Taxation on Labor Supply in the United States," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 25(3), pages 491-516.
    6. Thomas Mroz, . "The Sensitivity of an Empirical Model of Married Women's Hours of Work to Economic and Statistical Assumptions," University of Chicago - Population Research Center 84-8, Chicago - Population Research Center.
    7. Marjorie B. McElroy, 1990. "The Empirical Content of Nash-Bargained Household Behavior," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 25(4), pages 559-583.
    8. 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 1059-85, December.
    9. Ashenfelter, Orley & Heckman, James J, 1974. "The Estimation of Income and Substitution Effects in a Model of Family Labor Supply," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 42(1), pages 73-85, January.
    10. Newey, Whitney K & Powell, James L & Walker, James R, 1990. "Semiparametric Estimation of Selection Models: Some Empirical Results," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(2), pages 324-28, May.
    11. Kooreman, P. & Kapteyn, A.J., 1990. "On the empirical implementation of some game theoretic models of household labor supply," Other publications TiSEM 4c9bb2ae-f1e6-4924-8cae-3, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
    12. Murphy, Kevin M & Welch, Finis, 1992. "The Structure of Wages," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 107(1), pages 285-326, February.
    13. Deaton, Angus, 1985. "Panel data from time series of cross-sections," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 30(1-2), pages 109-126.
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