1,215 research outputs found

    Tax policy reform: why we need microeconomics

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    It is 20 years ago this July that the committee under the chairmanship of James Meade was set up by the Institute for Fiscal Studies to take a fundamental look at the UK tax structure. What it produced stands as a landmark in the history of tax policy analysis and was an important springboard for subsequent IFS research. The membership of the committee included three research ‘secretaries’, two of whom were recent presenters of the IFS Annual Lecture — John Flemming and Mervyn King — and the other of whom was to become Director of IFS — John Kay. With such an active history in research in this area, it would seem reasonable to ask ‘what’s new?’.

    Active labour market policy vs employment tax credits: lessons from recent UK reforms

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    Many welfare-to-work programs in both North America and Europe are directed at making work pay for the low skilled. This paper identifies two alternative policies that are motivated by this same objective – active labour market programs that involve wage subsidies together with improved job matching; and earned income tax credits that supplement wages for working low-income families. Although sharing similar concerns over labour market incentives for low skilled workers, these alternative policies typically differ in many important ways. We present an evaluation of the impacts of two such recent programs designed to enhance the labour market attachment of low-wage workers in the UK. These programs have many features in common and are similar to many policy proposals in Europe and North America. The evaluation of the UK reforms brings empirical evidence into the debate on the effectiveness of these programs and is used to assess what aspects of their design work well and what aspects could be improved.welfare reform; tax credits; wage subsidies; labour supply

    Conditions for the existence of control functions in nonseparable simultaneous equations models

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    The control function approach (Heckman and Robb (1985)) in a system of linear simultaneous equations provides a convenient procedure to estimate one of the functions in the system using reduced form residuals from the other functions as additional regressors. The conditions on the structural system under which this procedure can be used in nonlinear and nonparametric simultaneous equations has thus far been unknown. In this note, we define a new property of functions called control function separability and show it provides a complete characterization of the structural systems of simultaneous equations in which the control function procedure is valid.

    Has "In-Work" Benefit Reform Helped the Labour Market?

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    The aim of this paper is to examine the labour market impact of in-work benefit reform in the UK. Evidence is drawn from the impact of earlier reforms in the UK and similar reforms in the US. We focus on the impact on labour supply -- employment and hours of work. In the US a large proportion of the dramatic increase in participation among low educated single parents in the 1990s has been attributed to the increased generosity of the EITC. The impact of apparently similar reforms in the UK appears to have been smaller. We argue that these differences can be attributed to four factors: the impact of interactions with other means tested benefits in the UK; the importance of workless couples with children in the UK, who make up nearly 50% of the recipients in the UK; the level of income support given to non-working parents; and the strength of the economic upturn in the US during the 1990s.

    Labour supply: a review of alternative approaches

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    This chapter surveys existing approaches to modeling labor supply and identifies important gaps in the literature that could be addressed in future research. The discussion begins with a look at recent policy reforms and labor market facts that motivate the study of labor supply. The analysis then presents a unifying framework that allows alternative empirical formulations of the labor supply model to be compared and their resulting elasticities to be interpreted. This is followed by critical reviews of alternative approaches to labor-supply modeling. The first review assesses the difference in-differences approach and its relationship to natural experiments. The second analyzes estimation with non-linear budget constraints and welfare-program participation. The third appraises developments of family labor-supply models including both the standard unitary and collective labor-supply formulations. The fourth briefly explores dynamic extensions of the labor supply model, characterizing how participation decisions, learning-by-doing, human capital accumulation and habit formation affect the analysis of the lifecycle model. At the end of each of the four broad reviews, we summarize a selection of the recent empirical findings. The concluding section asks whether the developments reviewed in this chapter place us in a better position to answer the policy-reform questions and to interpret the trends in participation and hours with which we began this review. q1999 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.

    Income, expenditure and the living standards of UK households

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    Despite the widespread use of income as a measure of household welfare, there is much to recommend the use of consumption. Indeed, standard economic arguments suggest that consumption expenditure will better reflect expected lifetime resources and many economists have been unequivocal in advocating its use. Slesnick (1993), for example, suggests that ‘From a theoretical perspective it is more appropriate to evaluate poverty using a consumption based measure of household welfare’. Cutler and Katz (1992) state that ‘Economic theory suggests that permanent income or consumption is a more accurate measure of the distribution of resources than is current income’. Poterba (1989) argues that `If households base their spending plans on their expected lifetime income, then consumption provides a more accurate measure of resources than does annual income’.

    Heterogeneity and the nonparametric analysis of consumer choice: conditions for invertibility

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    This paper considers structural nonparametric random utility models for continuous choice variables. It provides suffcient conditions on random preferences to yield reduced- form systems of nonparametric stochastic demand functions that allow global invertibility between demands and random utility components. Invertibility is essential for global identification of structural consumer demand models, for the existence of well-specified probability models of choice and for the nonparametric analysis of revealed stochastic preference.nonparametric random utility model, stochastic demand, global invertibility

    Employment, hours of work and the optimal taxation of low income families

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    This paper examines the tax schedule for low income families with children. We take an optimal tax approach based on a structural labour supply model which incorporates unobserved heterogeneity, fixed costs of work, childcare costs and the detailed non-convexities of the tax and transfer system. The motivation is the British earned income tax credit reform (WFTC) and its interaction with the tax and transfer system for lone parents. Our analysis also examines the case for the use of hours-contingent payments. The results point to a tax schedule which depends on the age of children, with tax credits only optimal for low earners with school age children. The results also suggest a welfare improving role for hours-contingent payments although this is mitigated when hours cannot be monitored or recorded accurately by the tax authorities.
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