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In-Work Benefits for Married Couples: An Ex-Ante Evaluation of EITC and WTC Policies in Italy

This paper investigates labor supply and redistributive effects of in-work benefits for Italian married couples using a tax-benefit microsimulation model and a multi-sectoral discrete choice model of labor supply. We consider two in-work benefit schemes following the key principles of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Working Tax Credit (WTC) existing in the US and the UK, respectively. The standard design of these in-work benefits is however augmented with a new benefit premium for two-earner households in order to overcome the well-know disincentive effects that these welfare instruments may generate on secondary earners. In simulation, the proposed in-work benefits are financed through the abolition of Italian family allowances for dependent employees and contingent workers thus ensuring tax revenue neutrality. We show that our EITC and WTC reforms have strong positive effects on labor supply of wives, weak negative effects on labor supply of husbands, and strong positive effects on equity. The EITC is more effective than the WTC in boosting employment of wives, while the WTC is more effective than the EITC in fighting poverty. In both schemes, the trade-off between labor supply incentives and redistributive effects is crucially related to the new benefit premium for two-earner households. Other things being equal, tax revenue neutrality implies that a higher value of this policy coefficient yields stronger incentive effects and weaker redistributive effects.

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Paper provided by Tor Vergata University, CEIS in its series CEIS Research Paper with number 244.

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Length: 42 pages
Date of creation: 23 Jul 2012
Date of revision: 23 Jul 2012
Handle: RePEc:rtv:ceisrp:244
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  1. Fabrizio Colonna & Stefania Marcassa, 2011. "Taxation and Labor Force Participation: The Case of Italy," Working Papers 2011-021, Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group.
  2. John K. Dagsvik & Steinar Strøm, 2004. "Sectoral Labor Supply, Choice Restrictions and Functional Form," Discussion Papers 388, Statistics Norway, Research Department.
  3. van Soest, A.H.O. & Das, J.W.M. & Gong, X., 2001. "A Structural Labour Supply Model with Flexible Preferences," Other publications TiSEM 07a46b83-f128-4ea5-8498-9, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
  4. Emilia Del Bono & Massimiliano Bratti & Daniela Vuri, 2004. "New mothers’ labour force participation in Italy: the role of job characteristics," CHILD Working Papers wp05_04, CHILD - Centre for Household, Income, Labour and Demographic economics - ITALY.
  5. Brewer, Mike & Duncan, Alan & Shephard, Andrew & Suarez, Maria Jose, 2006. "Did working families' tax credit work? The impact of in-work support on labour supply in Great Britain," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(6), pages 699-720, December.
  6. Herwig Immervoll & Mark Pearson, 2009. "A Good Time for Making Work Pay? Taking Stock of In-Work Benefits and Related Measures across the OECD," OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers 81, OECD Publishing.
  7. Robert Breunig & Deborah A. Cobb-Clark & Xiaodong Gong, 2008. "Improving the Modelling of Couples' Labour Supply," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 84(267), pages 466-485, December.
  8. Frederic Vermeulen, 2006. "A collective model for female labour supply with non-participation and taxation," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 19(1), pages 99-118, February.
  9. Aaberge, Rolf & Colombino, Ugo & Strom, Steinar, 1999. "Labour Supply in Italy: An Empirical Analysis of Joint Household Decisions, with Taxes and Quantity Constraints," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 14(4), pages 403-22, July-Aug..
  10. Creedy, John & Duncan, Alan, 2002. " Behavioural Microsimulation with Labour Supply Responses," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 16(1), pages 1-39, February.
  11. Arthur van Soest, 1995. "Structural Models of Family Labor Supply: A Discrete Choice Approach," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 30(1), pages 63-88.
  12. Blundell, Richard, 2000. "Work Incentives and 'In-Work' Benefit Reforms: A Review," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 16(1), pages 27-44, Spring.
  13. Thomas MaCurdy & David Green & Harry Paarsch, 1990. "Assessing Empirical Approaches for Analyzing Taxes and Labor Supply," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 25(3), pages 415-490.
  14. repec:oup:qjecon:v:116:y:2001:i:3:p:1063-1114 is not listed on IDEAS
  15. Ugo Colombino & R. Aaberge & T. Wennemo, 2006. "Evaluating Alternative Representations of the Choice Sets in Models of Labour Supply," CHILD Working Papers wp17_06, CHILD - Centre for Household, Income, Labour and Demographic economics - ITALY.
  16. Neumark, David & Wascher, William, 2001. "Using The EITC to Help Poor Families: New Evidence and a Comparison with the Minimum Wage," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 54(n. 2), pages 281-318, June.
  17. Michael P. Keane, 2011. "Labor Supply and Taxes: A Survey," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 49(4), pages 961-1075, December.
  18. Bargain, Olivier & Orsini, Kristian, 2004. "In-work policies in Europe: killing two birds with one stone?," EUROMOD Working Papers EM4/04, EUROMOD at the Institute for Social and Economic Research.
  19. Richard Blundell & Alan Duncan & Julian McCrae & Costas Meghir, 2000. "The labour market impact of the working families’ tax credit," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 21(1), pages 75-103, March.
  20. Aaberge, Rolf & Colombino, Ugo & Strøm, Steinar, 2003. "Do More Equal Slices Shrink the Cake? An Empirical Investigation of Tax-Transfer Reform Proposals in Italy," Memorandum 37/2003, Oslo University, Department of Economics.
  21. Paul Gregg & Susan Harkness & Sarah Smith, 2007. "Welfare Reform and Lone Parents in the UK," The Centre for Market and Public Organisation 07/182, Department of Economics, University of Bristol, UK.
  22. Richard Blundell & Mike Brewer & Peter Haan & Andrew Shephard, 2009. "Optimal Income Taxation of Lone Mothers: An Empirical Comparison of the UK and Germany," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 119(535), pages F101-F121, 02.
  23. Stefania Marcassa & Fabrizio Colonna, 2011. "Taxation and Labor Force Participation: The Case of Italy," THEMA Working Papers 2011-22, THEMA (THéorie Economique, Modélisation et Applications), Université de Cergy-Pontoise.
  24. Tim Callan & Arthur van Soest & John R. Walsh, 2009. "Tax Structure and Female Labour Supply: Evidence from Ireland," LABOUR, CEIS, vol. 23(1), pages 1-35, 03.
  25. Eissa, Nada & Hoynes, Hilary Williamson, 2004. "Taxes and the labor market participation of married couples: the earned income tax credit," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(9-10), pages 1931-1958, August.
  26. Leigh, Andrew, 2007. "Earned Income Tax Credits and Labor Supply: New Evidence from a British Natural Experiment," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 60(2), pages 205-24, June.
  27. Francesconi, Marco & Rainer, Helmut & Klaauw,, 2009. "The effects of in-work benefit reform in Britain on couples: Theory and evidence," Munich Reprints in Economics 20334, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  28. Giordano, Raffaela & Depalo, Domenico & Coutinho Pereira, Manuel & Eugène, Bruno & Papapetrou, Evangelia & Pérez, Javier J. & Reiss, Lukas & Roter, Mojca, 2011. "The public sector pay gap in a selection of Euro area countries," Working Paper Series 1406, European Central Bank.
  29. repec:oup:qjecon:v:111:y:1996:i:2:p:605-37 is not listed on IDEAS
  30. Nada Eissa & Hilary Hoynes, 2008. "Redistribution and Tax Expenditures: The Earned Income Tax Credit," NBER Working Papers 14307, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  31. Aaberge, Rolf & Dagsvik, John K & Strom, Steinar, 1995. " Labor Supply Responses and Welfare Effects of Tax Reforms," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 97(4), pages 635-59, December.
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