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Panel Data Techniques and the Elasticity of Taxable Income


  • Giertz, Seth


This paper examines the elasticity of taxable income with special focus on income controls designed to control for divergence in the income distribution and mean reversion. Additional emphasis is placed on the difference between short-run and longer-run responses to tax rate changes. Several panel techniques are applied to tax return data for years 1991 to 1997, followed by a cross-section analysis covering the same period. For each panel regression, an innovative inverted panel regression framework is employed to test the efficacy of the controls for mean reversion apart from controls for divergence in the income distribution. Finally, cross-section (and repeated cross-section) regressions are estimated for comparison. A major finding from comparing estimates from the standard and inverted panels is that even some of the more sophisticated techniques likely fail to adequately control for mean reversion at the top of the income distribution. Furthermore, the residual impact from mean reversion may still exert an enormous influence on elasticity estimates, which could help explain the lack of robustness reported in a number of papers in this literature. Analysis of cross-section data circumvents the problem of mean reversion and results in estimates that are robust with respect to sample income cutoffs. However when vast differences likely exist between those experiencing a specific change in tax rates and other filers, estimates relying on either panel or cross-section data are likely to be poorly identified.

Suggested Citation

  • Giertz, Seth, 2008. "Panel Data Techniques and the Elasticity of Taxable Income," MPRA Paper 17600, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:17600

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Robert A. Moffitt & Mark Wilhelm, 1998. "Taxation and the Labor Supply: Decisions of the Affluent," NBER Working Papers 6621, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Gruber, Jon & Saez, Emmanuel, 2002. "The elasticity of taxable income: evidence and implications," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(1), pages 1-32, April.
    3. Austan Goolsbee, 2000. "What Happens When You Tax the Rich? Evidence from Executive Compensation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(2), pages 352-378, April.
    4. Giertz, Seth, 2005. "A Sensitivity Analysis of the Elasticity of Taxable Income," MPRA Paper 17601, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. Giertz, Seth, 2004. "Recent Literature on Taxable-Income Elasticities," MPRA Paper 16159, University Library of Munich, Germany.
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    Cited by:

    1. Mark Huggett & Alejandro Badel, 2013. "Taxing Top Earners: A Human Capital Perspective," 2013 Meeting Papers 625, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    2. Weber, Caroline E., 2014. "Toward obtaining a consistent estimate of the elasticity of taxable income using difference-in-differences," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 117(C), pages 90-103.
    3. Emmanuel Saez & Joel Slemrod & Seth H. Giertz, 2012. "The Elasticity of Taxable Income with Respect to Marginal Tax Rates: A Critical Review," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 50(1), pages 3-50, March.

    More about this item


    Elasticity of Taxable Income; Taxation; Behavioral Responses to Taxation; Panel Data Techniques;

    JEL classification:

    • H21 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Efficiency; Optimal Taxation
    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply
    • H2 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue


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