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The Incidence of Payroll Taxation: Evidence from Chile

  • Jonathan Gruber

Despite the growing reliance on payroll taxation worldwide, there is limited evidence on the incidence of payroll taxes. I provide new evidence by examining the experience of Chile before and after the privatization of its Social Security system. This policy change led to a sharp exogenous reduction in the payroll tax burden on Chilean firms; the average payroll tax rate in my sample fell from 30% to 5% over this six year period. I use data from a census of manufacturing firms, which contains information on firm specific tax payments and average wages. I find strong evidence that the incidence of payroll taxation was fully on wages, with no effect on employment. A potential weakness with this approach is that some of the variation in firm-specific tax rates may be spurious, for example due to measurement error in wages. I attempt to surmount this problem by using a variety of different estimators, all of which yield consistent evidence of full shifting.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 5053.

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Date of creation: Mar 1995
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Publication status: published as Gruber, Jonathan. "The Incidence Of Payroll Taxation: Evidence From Chile," Journal of Labor Economics, 1997, v15(3,Jul), Part 2, S72-S101.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:5053
Note: LS PE
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  1. David Card, 1991. "Do Minimum Wages Reduce Employment? A Case Study of California, 1987-89," NBER Working Papers 3710, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Summers, Lawrence H, 1989. "Some Simple Economics of Mandated Benefits," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(2), pages 177-83, May.
  3. David Card, 1992. "Using regional variation in wages to measure the effects of the federal minimum wage," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 46(1), pages 22-37, October.
  4. David Card & Alan Krueger, 1993. "Minimum Wages and Employment: A Case Study of the Fast Food Industry in New Jersey and Pennsylvania," Working Papers 694, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  5. Angrist, Joshua D., 1991. "Grouped-data estimation and testing in simple labor-supply models," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 47(2-3), pages 243-266, February.
  6. Lawrence H. Summers & Jonathan Gruber & Rodrigo Vergara, 1992. "Taxation and the Structure of Labor Markets: The Case of Corporatism," NBER Working Papers 4063, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Griliches, Zvi & Hausman, Jerry A., 1986. "Errors in variables in panel data," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 93-118, February.
  8. Alan B. Krueger & Jorn-Steffen Pischke, 1991. "The Effect of Social Security on Labor Supply: A Cohort Analysis of the Notch Generation," NBER Working Papers 3699, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. David Card, 1992. "Do Minimum Wages Reduce Employment? A Case Study of California, 1987–89," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 46(1), pages 38-54, October.
  10. Gruber, Jonathan, 1994. "The Incidence of Mandated Maternity Benefits," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(3), pages 622-41, June.
  11. John Bound & David A. Jaeger & Regina Baker, 1993. "The Cure Can Be Worse than the Disease: A Cautionary Tale Regarding Instrumental Variables," NBER Technical Working Papers 0137, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Peter Diamond, 1993. "Privatization of Social Security: Lessons from Chile," NBER Working Papers 4510, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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