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A structural model of multiple welfare program participation and labor supply

One of the long-standing issues in the literature on transfer programs for the U.S. low-income population concerns the high cumulative marginal tax rate on earnings induced by participation in the multiplicity of programs offered by the government. Empirical work on the issue has reached an impasse partly because the analytic solution to the choice problem is intractable and partly because the model requires the estimation of multiple sets of equations with limited dependent variables, an estimation problem which until recently has been computationally infeasible. In this paper we estimate a model of labor supply and multiple program participation using methods of simulation estimation that enable us to solve both problems. The results show asymmetric wage and tax rate effects, with fairly large wage elasticities of labor supply but very inelastic responses to moderate changes in cumulative marginal tax rates, implying that high welfare tax rates do not necessarily induce major reductions in work effort.

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Paper provided by University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty in its series Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Papers with number 1080-96.

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Handle: RePEc:wop:wispod:1080-96
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  1. Fraker, Thomas & Moffitt, Robert, 1988. "The effect of food stamps on labor supply : A bivariate selection model," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(1), pages 25-56, February.
  2. Zabalza, A. & Pissarides, C. & Barton, M., 1980. "Social security and the choice between full-time work, part-time work and retirement," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(2), pages 245-276, October.
  3. Danziger, Sheldon & Haveman, Robert & Plotnick, Robert, 1981. "How Income Transfer Programs Affect Work, Savings, and the Income Distribution: A Critical Review," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 19(3), pages 975-1028, September.
  4. Pakes, Ariel & Pollard, David, 1989. "Simulation and the Asymptotics of Optimization Estimators," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(5), pages 1027-57, September.
  5. Daniel McFadden, 1987. "A Method of Simulated Moments for Estimation of Discrete Response Models Without Numerical Integration," Working papers 464, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  6. Moffitt, Robert, 1992. "Incentive Effects of the U.S. Welfare System: A Review," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 30(1), pages 1-61, March.
  7. Moffitt, Robert, 1983. "An Economic Model of Welfare Stigma," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(5), pages 1023-35, December.
  8. Hausman, Jerry A, 1985. "The Econometrics of Nonlinear Budget Sets," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 53(6), pages 1255-82, November.
  9. Moffitt, Robert & Wolfe, Barbara L, 1992. "The Effect of the Medicaid Program on Welfare Participation and Labor Supply," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 74(4), pages 615-26, November.
  10. McFadden, Daniel & Ruud, Paul A, 1994. "Estimation by Simulation," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 76(4), pages 591-608, November.
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