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Taxes, Wages, and the Labor Supply of Older Americans

Given the aging of the U.S. population, and the greater contributions of older workers to the labor force, understanding how policy levers can affect elderly labor supply has become increasingly important. In this paper we use data from the Health and Retirement Study linked to state identifiers to estimate the responsiveness of the labor supply of older workers to the wage and features of the tax code, both on the probability of participating in the labor market, as well as on hours of work for those who choose to work. We find that a 10 percent increase in the wage is associated with a five percent increase in participation, and we estimate slightly larger responses to marginal tax rates. These results suggest that government policies could increase the labor supply of older individuals by changing the returns to work through the tax code.

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Paper provided by Department of Economics, Williams College in its series Department of Economics Working Papers with number 2008-16.

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Length: 35 pages
Date of creation: Jun 2008
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in Research on Aging, 2009, 31(2): 207-232.
Handle: RePEc:wil:wileco:2008-16
Contact details of provider: Postal: Williamstown, MA 01267
Phone: 413 597 2476
Fax: 413 597 4045
Web page: http://econ.williams.edu
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  1. Hausman, Jerry A., 1980. "The effect of wages, taxes, and fixed costs on women's labor force participation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(2), pages 161-194, October.
  2. Gustman, Alan L & Steinmeier, Thomas L, 1986. "A Structural Retirement Model," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 54(3), pages 555-84, May.
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  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Burtless, Gary & Moffitt, Robert A, 1985. "The Joint Choice of Retirement Age and Postretirement Hours of Work," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 3(2), pages 209-36, April.
  10. Showalter, Mark H. & Thurston, Norman K., 1997. "Taxes and labor supply of high-income physicians," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 66(1), pages 73-97, October.
  11. Andy Eschtruth & Jonathan Gemus, 2002. "Are Older Workers Responding To The Bear Market?," Just the Facts jtf-5, Center for Retirement Research.
  12. Gruber, Jonathan & Orszag, Peter, 2003. "Does the Social Security Earnings Test Affect Labor Supply and Benefits Receipt?," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 56(4), pages 755-73, December.
  13. Gabor Kezdi & Purvi Sevak, 2004. "Economic Adjustment of Recent Retirees to Adverse Wealth Shocks," Working Papers wp075, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
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  15. Marianne Bertrand & Esther Duflo & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2004. "How Much Should We Trust Differences-in-Differences Estimates?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 119(1), pages 249-275, February.
  16. Steven J. Haider & David S. Loughran, 2008. "The Effect of the Social Security Earnings Test on Male Labor Supply: New Evidence from Survey and Administrative Data," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 43(1).
  17. Leora Friedberg, 1999. "The Labor Supply Effects of the Social Security Earnings Test," NBER Working Papers 7200, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. Nicole Maestas, 2004. "Back to Work: Expectations and Realizations of Work After Retirement," Working Papers wp085, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
  19. Alan L. Gustman & Thomas L. Steinmeier, 1999. "What People Don't Know About Their Pensions and Social Security: An Analysis Using Linked Data from the Health and Retirement Study," NBER Working Papers 7368, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. F. Thomas Juster & James P. Smith, 2004. "Improving the Quality of Economic Data: Lessons from the HRS and AHEAD," Labor and Demography 0402010, EconWPA.
  21. Bradley T. Heim, 2007. "The Incredible Shrinking Elasticities: Married Female Labor Supply, 1978–2002," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 42(4).
  22. Daniel Feenberg & Elisabeth Coutts, 1993. "An introduction to the TAXSIM model," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 12(1), pages 189-194.
  23. David S. Loughran & Steven Haider, 2007. "Do the Elderly Respond to Taxes on Earnings? Evidence from the Social Security Retirement Earnings Test," Working Papers 223-1, RAND Corporation Publications Department.
  24. Steven Haider & David Loughran, 2001. "Elderly Labor Supply: Work or Play?," Working Papers 01-09, RAND Corporation Publications Department.
  25. Gerald Auten & Robert Carroll, 1999. "The Effect Of Income Taxes On Household Income," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 81(4), pages 681-693, November.
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