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Labour Market Effects of Payroll Taxes in Developing Countries: Evidence from Colombia

We use a panel of manufacturing plants from Colombia to analyze how the rise in payroll tax rates over the 1980s and 1990s affected the labor market. Our estimates indicate that formal wages fall by between 1.4% and 2.3% as a result of a 10% rise in payroll taxes. This “less-than-full-shifting” is likely to be the result of weak linkages between benefits and taxes and the presence of downward wage rigidities in Colombia. Because the costs of taxation are only partly shifted from employers to employees, employment also falls. Our results indicate that a 10% increase in payroll taxes lowered formal employment by between 4% and 5%. In addition, we find some evidence of less shifting and larger disemployment effects for production than for non-production workers. These results suggest that policies aimed at boosting the relative demand of less-skill workers by reducing social security taxes may be effective in Latin American countries, where minimum wages bind and benefits are often not directly linked to contributions.

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File URL: http://www.wlu.ca/documents/29176/2008-01.pdf
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Paper provided by Wilfrid Laurier University, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number eg0056.

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Length: 34
Date of creation: 2008
Date of revision: 2008
Handle: RePEc:wlu:wpaper:eg0056
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  6. Nickell, Stephen & Layard, Richard, 1999. "Labor market institutions and economic performance," Handbook of Labor Economics,in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 46, pages 3029-3084 Elsevier.
  7. Robert Kaestner, 1996. "The Effect of Government-Mandated Benefits on Youth Employment," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 50(1), pages 122-142, October.
  8. Adriana Kugler, 1999. "The Impact of Firing Costs on Turnover and Unemployment: Evidence from the Colombian Labour Market Reform," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 6(3), pages 389-410, August.
  9. Gruber, Jonathan, 1997. "The Incidence of Payroll Taxation: Evidence from Chile," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(3), pages 72-101, July.
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  13. Kugler, Adriana D., 2005. "Wage-shifting effects of severance payments savings accounts in Colombia," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(2-3), pages 487-500, February.
  14. Kugler, Adriana & Kugler, Maurice, 2003. "The Labor Market Effects of Payroll Taxes in a Middle-Income Country: Evidence from Colombia," IZA Discussion Papers 852, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  15. Daniel S. Hamermesh, 2004. "Labor Demand in Latin America and the Caribbean. What Does It Tell Us?," NBER Chapters,in: Law and Employment: Lessons from Latin America and the Caribbean, pages 553-562 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  17. Gruber, Jonathan, 1994. "The Incidence of Mandated Maternity Benefits," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(3), pages 622-641, June.
  18. Kugler, Adriana & Kugler, Maurice, 2003. "The labor market effects of payroll taxes in a middle-income country: evidence from Colombia," Discussion Paper Series In Economics And Econometrics 0306, Economics Division, School of Social Sciences, University of Southampton.
  19. Adriana D. Kugler, 2004. "The Effect of Job Security Regulations on Labor Market Flexibility. Evidence from the Colombian Labor Market Reform," NBER Chapters,in: Law and Employment: Lessons from Latin America and the Caribbean, pages 183-228 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. Carlos Arango & Angélica Pachón, 2004. "Minimum Wages in Colombia: Holding the Middle with a Bite," BORRADORES DE ECONOMIA 003224, BANCO DE LA REPÚBLICA.
  21. Shapiro, Carl & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1984. "Equilibrium Unemployment as a Worker Discipline Device," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(3), pages 433-444, June.
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  23. Maloney, William F, 1999. "Does Informality Imply Segmentation in Urban Labor Markets? Evidence from Sectoral Transitions in Mexico," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 13(2), pages 275-302, May.
  24. MacIsaac, Donna & Rama, Martin, 1997. "Determinants of Hourly Earnings in Ecuador: The Role of Labor Market Regulations," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(3), pages 136-165, July.
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