IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Evaluating Alternative Representations of the Choice Sets in Models of Labour Supply


  • Ugo Colombino

    (CHILD, Department of Economics, Turin, Italy)

  • Rolf Aaberge

    (Research Department, Statistics Norway, Oslo, Norway)

  • Tom Wennemo

    (Research Department, Statistics Norway, Oslo, Norway)


During the last two decades, the discrete-choice modelling of labour supply decisions has become increasingly popular, starting with Aaberge et al. (1995) and van Soest (1995). Within the literature adopting this approach there are however two potentially important issues that are worthwhile analyzing in their implications and that up to know have not been given the attention that they might deserve. A first issue concerns the procedure by which the discrete alternative are chosen. For example Van Soest (1995) chooses (non probabilistically) a set of fixed points identical for every individual. This is by far the most widely adopted method. By contrast, Aaberge et al. (1995) adopt a sampling procedure and also assume that the choice set may differ across the households. A second issue concerns the availability of the alternatives. Most authors assume all the values of hours-of-work within some range [0, H] are equally available. At the other extreme, some authors assume only two or three alternatives (e.g. non-participation, part-time and full-time) are available for everyone. Aaberge et al. (1995) assume instead that not all the hour opportunities are equally available to everyone; they specify a probability density function of opportunities for each individual and the discrete choice set used in the estimation is built by sampling from that individual-specific density function. In this paper we explore by simulation the implications of - the procedure used to build the choice set (fixed alternatives vs sampled alternatives) - accounting vs not accounting for a different availability of alternatives. The way the choice set is represented seems to have little impact on the fitting of observed values, but a more significant and important impact on the prediction of policy effects.

Suggested Citation

  • Ugo Colombino & Rolf Aaberge & Tom Wennemo, 2005. "Evaluating Alternative Representations of the Choice Sets in Models of Labour Supply," Econometrics 0510001, EconWPA.
  • Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpem:0510001
    Note: Type of Document - pdf; pages: 21

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Rolf Aaberge & Ugo Colombino & Steinar Strøm, 2004. "Do more equal slices shrink the cake? An empirical investigation of tax-transfer reform proposals in Italy," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 17(4), pages 767-785, December.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.
    4. James J. Heckman, 1974. "Effects of Child-Care Programs on Women's Work Effort," NBER Chapters,in: Marriage, Family, Human Capital, and Fertility, pages 136-169 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. John Creedy & Guyonne Kalb, 2005. "Discrete Hours Labour Supply Modelling: Specification, Estimation and Simulation," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 19(5), pages 697-734, December.
    6. Ugo Colombino & Steinar Strøm & Rolf Aaberge, 2000. "Labor supply responses and welfare effects from replacing current tax rules by a flat tax: Empirical evidence from Italy, Norway and Sweden," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 13(4), pages 595-621.
    7. A. Zabalza & C. Pissarides & M. Barton, 1980. "Social security and the choice between full-time work, part-time work and retirement," NBER Chapters,in: Econometric Studies in Public Finance, pages 245-276 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Rolf Aaberge & Ugo Colombino & Steinar Strøm & Tom Wennemo, 2005. "Joint Labour Supply of Married Couples: Efficiency and Distribution Effects of Tax and Labour Market Reforms," Labor and Demography 0501004, EconWPA.
    9. Hausman, Jerry A., 1979. "The econometrics of labor supply on convex budget sets," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 3(2), pages 171-174.
    10. Moffitt, Robert, 1986. "The Econometrics of Piecewise-Linear Budget Constraints: A Survey and Exposition of the Maximum Likelihood Method," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 4(3), pages 317-328, July.
    11. repec:eme:ceapzz:s0573-855520140000293006 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. Blomquist, N. Soren, 1988. "Nonlinear taxes and labor supply," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 32(6), pages 1213-1226, July.
    13. Daniel McFadden, 1977. "Modelling the Choice of Residential Location," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 477, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
    14. 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 635-659, December.
    15. 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 403-422, July-Aug..
    16. Rolf Aaberge & Ugo Colombino, 2014. "Labour Supply Models," Contributions to Economic Analysis,in: Handbook of Microsimulation Modelling, volume 127, pages 167-221 Emerald Publishing Ltd.
    17. Mark N. Harris & Alan Duncan, 2002. "Intransigencies in the Labour Supply Choice," Melbourne Institute Working Paper Series wp2002n17, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne.
    18. repec:hoo:wpaper:e-90-11 is not listed on IDEAS
    19. Dagsvik, John K, 1994. "Discrete and Continuous Choice, Max-Stable Processes, and Independence from Irrelevant Attributes," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(5), pages 1179-1205, September.
    20. Duncan, Alan & Weeks, Melvyn, 1997. "Behavioural tax microsimulation with finite hours choices," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 41(3-5), pages 619-626, April.
    21. Gaundry, Marc J. I. & Dagenais, Marcel G., 1979. "The dogit model," Transportation Research Part B: Methodological, Elsevier, vol. 13(2), pages 105-111, June.
    22. Tom Kornstad & Thor O. Thoresen, 2004. "Means-Testing the Child Benefit," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 50(1), pages 29-49, March.
    23. Tim R.L. Fry & Mark N. Harris, 2002. "The DOGEV Model," Monash Econometrics and Business Statistics Working Papers 7/02, Monash University, Department of Econometrics and Business Statistics.
    24. 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.
    25. James J. Heckrnan, 1974. "Effects of Child-Care Programs on Women's Work Effort," NBER Chapters,in: Economics of the Family: Marriage, Children, and Human Capital, pages 491-524 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    26. 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.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    Microeconometric Models; Discrete Choice; Choice Set; Labour Supply; Tax Reforms.;

    JEL classification:

    • C1 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General
    • C2 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables
    • C3 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Multiple or Simultaneous Equation Models; Multiple Variables
    • C4 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods: Special Topics
    • C5 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric Modeling
    • C8 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Data Collection and Data Estimation Methodology; Computer Programs

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpem:0510001. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (EconWPA). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.