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Getting the poor to work: Three welfare increasing reforms for a busy Germany

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  • Jessen, Robin
  • Rostam-Afschar, Davud
  • Steiner, Viktor

Abstract

We study three budget-neutral reforms of the German tax and transfer system designed to improve work incentives for people with low incomes: a feasible flat tax reform that provides a basic income which is equal to the current level of the means tested unemployment benefit, and two alternative reforms that involve employment subsidies to stimulate participation and full-time work, respectively. We estimate labor supply reactions and welfare effects using a microsimulation model based on household data from the Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) and a structural labor supply model. We find that all three reforms increase labor supply in the first decile of the income distribution. However, the flat tax scenario reduces overall labor supply by 4.9%, the reform scenario designed to increase participation reduces labor supply by 1%, while the reform that provides improved incentives to work full-time has negligible effects on overall labor supply. With equal welfare weights, aggregate welfare gains are realizable under all three reforms.

Suggested Citation

  • Jessen, Robin & Rostam-Afschar, Davud & Steiner, Viktor, 2015. "Getting the poor to work: Three welfare increasing reforms for a busy Germany," Discussion Papers 2015/22, Free University Berlin, School of Business & Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:fubsbe:201522
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Richard Blundell & Monica Costa Dias & Costas Meghir & Jonathan Shaw, 2016. "Female Labor Supply, Human Capital, and Welfare Reform," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 84, pages 1705-1753, September.
    2. Olivier Bargain & Marco Caliendo & Peter Haan & Kristian Orsini, 2010. "“Making work pay” in a rationed labor market," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 23(1), pages 323-351, January.
    3. Bartels, Charlotte, 2012. "Long-term participation tax rates," Discussion Papers 2012/20, Free University Berlin, School of Business & Economics.
    4. Colombino Ugo & Narazani Edlira, 2013. "Designing a Universal Income Support Mechanism for Italy: An Exploratory Tour," Basic Income Studies, De Gruyter, vol. 8(1), pages 1-17, July.
    5. Robin Jessen & Davud Rostam-Afschar & Viktor Steiner, 2017. "Getting the Poor to Work: Three Welfare-Increasing Reforms for a Busy Germany," FinanzArchiv: Public Finance Analysis, Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 73(1), pages 1-41, March.
    6. Friedman, Milton, 2002. "Capitalism and Freedom," University of Chicago Press Economics Books, University of Chicago Press, number 9780226264219, September.
    7. David Prescott & Robert Swidinsky & David A. Wilton, 1986. "Labour Supply Estimates for Low-Income Female Heads of Household Using Mincome Data," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 19(1), pages 134-141, February.
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    9. Clemens Fuest & Andreas Peichl & Thilo Schaefer, 2008. "Is a flat tax reform feasible in a grown-up democracy of Western Europe? A simulation study for Germany," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 15(5), pages 620-636, October.
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    11. 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.
    12. 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.
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    14. Hohenleitner, Ingrid & Straubhaar, Thomas, 2008. "Bedingungsloses Grundeinkommen und Solidarisches Bürgergeld - mehr als sozialutopische Konzepte," Edition HWWI: Chapters, in: Straubhaar, Thomas (ed.), Bedingungsloses Grundeinkommen und Solidarisches Bürgergeld - mehr als sozialutopische Konzepte, volume 1, pages 9-127, Hamburg Institute of International Economics (HWWI).
    15. Robin Jessen & David Rostam-Afschar & Viktor Steiner, 2015. "Getting the Poor to Work: Three Welfare Increasing Reforms for a Busy Germany," Working Papers 2015010, Berlin Doctoral Program in Economics and Management Science (BDPEMS).
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Robin Jessen, 2019. "Why has Income Inequality in Germany Increased From 2002 to 2011? A Behavioral Microsimulation Decomposition," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 65(3), pages 540-560, September.
    2. Robin Jessen & Davud Rostam-Afschar & Sebastian Schmitz, 2018. "How important is precautionary labour supply?," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 70(3), pages 868-891.
    3. Robin Jessen & Davud Rostam-Afschar & Viktor Steiner, 2017. "Getting the Poor to Work: Three Welfare-Increasing Reforms for a Busy Germany," FinanzArchiv: Public Finance Analysis, Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 73(1), pages 1-41, March.
    4. Palermo Kuss, Ana Helena, 2019. "Testing preferences for basic income," The Constitutional Economics Network Working Papers 01-2019, University of Freiburg, Department of Economic Policy and Constitutional Economic Theory.
    5. Islam, Nizamul & Colombino, Ugo, 2018. "The case for NIT+FT in Europe. An empirical optimal taxation exercise," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 75(C), pages 38-69.
    6. Jessen, Robin & Metzing, Maria & Rostam-Afschar, Davud, 2017. "Optimal taxation under different concepts of justness," Discussion Papers 2017/26, Free University Berlin, School of Business & Economics.
    7. Rolf Aaberge & Ugo Colombino, 2018. "Structural Labour Supply Models and Microsimulation," International Journal of Microsimulation, International Microsimulation Association, vol. 11(1), pages 162-197.
    8. Steiner, Viktor & Fossen, Frank & Rees, Ray & Rostam-Afschar, Davud, 2017. "How Do Entrepreneurial Portfolios Respond to Income Taxation?," Annual Conference 2017 (Vienna): Alternative Structures for Money and Banking 168302, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    9. Fischer, Benjamin & Jessen, Robin & Steiner, Viktor, 2019. "Work incentives and the cost of redistribution via tax-transfer reforms under constrained labor supply," Discussion Papers 2019/10, Free University Berlin, School of Business & Economics.
    10. Frank Fossen & Ray Rees & Davud Rostam-Afschar & Viktor Steiner, 2017. "How Do Entrepreneurial Portfolios Respond to Taxation?," CESifo Working Paper Series 6558, CESifo Group Munich.
    11. Piotr Misztal, 2018. "Universal basic income. Theory and practice," Managerial Economics, AGH University of Science and Technology, Faculty of Management, vol. 19(1), pages 103-116.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    flat tax; basic income; work incentives; poverty; microsimulation;

    JEL classification:

    • H31 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - Household
    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs
    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply
    • C25 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Discrete Regression and Qualitative Choice Models; Discrete Regressors; Proportions; Probabilities

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