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Five issues in the design of income support mechanisms. The case of Italy

  • Ugo Colombino

    ()

Differently from most European countries and despite the recommendations on the part of the European Commission, Italy still misses a sufficiently systematic and nationwide mechanism of income support. In this paper we want to explore the feasibility, the desirability and the features of a universal policy of minimum income in Italy. We use a microeconometric model and a social welfare methodology in order to evaluate various alternatives mechanisms. We simulate the effects and the social welfare performance of 30 reforms resulting from six versions of five basic types of income support mechanism: guaranteed minimum income (GMI), universal basic income (UBI), wage subsidy (WS) and two mixed systems: GMI+WS and UBI+WS. As welfare evaluation criteria we adopt the Gini Social Welfare function and the Poverty-Adjusted Gini Social Welfare function. All the reforms are calibrated so as to preserve fiscal neutrality. The simulation adopts a methodology that allows for market equilibrium and ensures a consistent comparative statics interpretation of the results. Universal and non mean-tested transfers (possibly complemented by wage subsidy) emerge as desirable and feasible features of the income support mechanism. In the most realistic scenarios, the social-welfare-optimal policies are a modest unconditional transfer amounting to 40% of the poverty line complemented by a 10% wage subsidy or – depending on the social welfare criterion – a more generous unconditional transfer (100% of the poverty line). The reforms can be financed by proportionally increasing the current marginal tax rates and widening the tax base to include all personal incomes. The set of universalistic policies that are preferable to the current system is very large and gives the opportunity of selecting a best reform according to many different criteria.

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Paper provided by CHILD - Centre for Household, Income, Labour and Demographic economics - ITALY in its series CHILD Working Papers with number wp21_11.

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Length: 45 pages
Date of creation: Dec 2011
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Handle: RePEc:wpc:wplist:wp21_11
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  1. Colombino, Ugo, 2010. "Equilibrium Policy Simulations with Random Utility Models of Labour Supply," IZA Discussion Papers 5262, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Aaberge, Rolf & Colombino, Ugo, 2006. "Designing Optimal Taxes with a Microeconometric Model of Household Labour Supply," IZA Discussion Papers 2468, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. Tom Kornstad & Thor Thoresen, 2007. "A discrete choice model for labor supply and childcare," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 20(4), pages 781-803, October.
  4. John K. Dagsvik, 1996. "Aggregation in Matching Markets," Discussion Papers 173, Statistics Norway, Research Department.
  5. John Creedy & Guyonne Kalb, 2003. "Discrete Hours Labour Supply Modelling: Specification, Estimation and Simulation," Treasury Working Paper Series 03/20, New Zealand Treasury.
  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. Sen, Amartya, 1974. "Informational bases of alternative welfare approaches : Aggregation and income distribution," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 387-403, November.
  8. Amartya Sen, 1976. "Real National Income," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 43(1), pages 19-39.
  9. Immervoll, Herwig & Kleven, Henrik & Kreiner, Claus Thustrup & Saez, Emmanuel, 2004. "Welfare Reform in European Countries: A Micro-Simulation Analysis," CEPR Discussion Papers 4324, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  10. John Creedy & Alan Duncan, 2001. "Aggregating Labour Supply And Feedback Effects In Microsimulation," Department of Economics - Working Papers Series 823, The University of Melbourne.
  11. Peter A. Diamond & Emmanuel Saez, 2011. "The Case for a Progressive Tax: From Basic Research to Policy Recommendations," CESifo Working Paper Series 3548, CESifo Group Munich.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. Dagsvik, John K. & Strøm, Steinar, 2004. "Sectoral labor supply, choice restrictions and functional form," Memorandum 13/2004, Oslo University, Department of Economics.
  15. Peter Haan & Katharina Wrohlich, 2010. "Optimal Taxation: The Design of Child-Related Cash and In-Kind Benefits," German Economic Review, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 11, pages 278-301, 08.
  16. François Bourguignon & Amedeo Spadaro, 2006. "Microsimulation as a Tool for Evaluating Redistribution Policies," Working Papers 20, ECINEQ, Society for the Study of Economic Inequality.
  17. Colombino Ugo & Locatelli Marilena & Narazani Edlira & O'Donoghue Cathal, 2010. "Alternative Basic Income Mechanisms: An Evaluation Exercise With a Microeconometric Model," Basic Income Studies, De Gruyter, vol. 5(1), pages 1-31, September.
  18. 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.
  19. King, Mervyn A., 1983. "Welfare analysis of tax reforms using household data," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(2), pages 183-214, July.
  20. Meade, James E, 1972. "Poverty in the Welfare State," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 24(3), pages 289-326, November.
  21. 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.
  22. De Vincenti Claudio & Paladini Ruggero, 2009. "Personal Income Tax Design for Italy: Lessons from the Theory," Rivista italiana degli economisti, Società editrice il Mulino, issue 1, pages 7-46.
  23. Jon Gruber & Emmanuel Saez, 2000. "The Elasticity of Taxable Income: Evidence and Implications," NBER Working Papers 7512, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  24. Diamond, P., 1994. "Optimal Income Taxation: An Exemple with a U-Shaped Pattern of Optimal Marginal Tax Rates," Working papers 94-14, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  25. McFadden, Daniel, 1974. "The measurement of urban travel demand," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 303-328, November.
  26. 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..
  27. Standing Guy, 2008. "How Cash Transfers Promote the Case for Basic Income," Basic Income Studies, De Gruyter, vol. 3(1), pages 1-30, July.
  28. Emmanuel Saez, 2001. "Using Elasticities to Derive Optimal Income Tax Rates," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 68(1), pages 205-229.
  29. Emmanuel Saez, 2002. "Optimal Income Transfer Programs: Intensive versus Extensive Labor Supply Responses," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(3), pages 1039-1073.
  30. Duncan, Alan & Giles, Christopher, 1996. "Labour Supply Incentives and Recent Family Credit Reforms," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 106(434), pages 142-55, January.
  31. Atkinson, A B, 1987. "On the Measurement of Poverty," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(4), pages 749-64, July.
  32. 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.
  33. Colombino, Ugo, 1998. "Evaluating the effects of new telephone tariffs on residential users' demand and welfare. A model for Italy," Information Economics and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 10(3), pages 283-303, September.
  34. Rolf Aaberge & Ugo Colombino, 2011. "Empirical Optimal Income Taxation: A Microeconometric Application to Norway," CHILD Working Papers wp16_11, CHILD - Centre for Household, Income, Labour and Demographic economics - ITALY.
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