Housing Subsidies and Work Incentives in Great Britain
The relationship between housing costs, wages and transfer programmes is complex and yet plays an important part in determining the incentive to work for individuals in low income or high housing cost households. While it is true that many individuals who are in these categories are out of the labour force (retired, sick and disabled), there are many who are not and whose incentive to seek work, or to work harder if already in work, could be modified by directly changing the rent levels they face or indirectly via changes to the structure of programmes designed to subsidize housing for the poor. Here we estimate a static discrete choice labour supply model which allows for housing benefit programme participation. We use samples of 42491 married women and 13340 unmarried women drawn from Great Britain Family Resources Surveys 1994/5-97/8. We find that women are quite responsive to labour supply incentives, housing benefit income has similar incentive effects to earned income which suggests any "stigma" is small. Our analysis is complemented by simulating housing benefit and direct rent subsidy reforms.
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