Comparing Inequality Aversion Across Countries When Labor Supply Responses Differ

53 Pages Posted: 23 Feb 2013

See all articles by Olivier Bargain

Olivier Bargain

IZA Institute of Labor Economics; University College Dublin (UCD)

Mathias Dolls

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute) - Ifo Institute; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Dirk Neumann

University of Cologne

Andreas Peichl

ZEW – Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research; University of Mannheim - School of Economics (VWL); IZA Institute of Labor Economics; University of Essex - Institute for Social and Economic Research (ISER)

Sebastian Siegloch

IZA Institute of Labor Economics; University of Mannheim - Department of Economics; ZEW – Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research - Corporate Taxation and Public Finance Research; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Abstract

We analyze to which extent social inequality aversion differs across nations when controlling for actual country differences in labor supply responses. Towards this aim, we estimate labor supply elasticities at both extensive and intensive margins for 17 EU countries and the US. Using the same data, inequality aversion is measured as the degree of redistribution implicit in current tax-benefit systems, when these systems are deemed optimal. We find relatively small differences in labor supply elasticities across countries. However, this changes the cross-country ranking in inequality aversion compared to scenarios following the standard approach of using uniform elasticities. Differences in redistributive views are significant between three groups of nations. Labor supply responses are systematically larger at the extensive margin and often larger for the lowest earnings groups, exacerbating the implicit Rawlsian views for countries with traditional social assistance programs. Given the possibility that labor supply responsiveness was underestimated at the time these programs were implemented, we show that such wrong perceptions would lead to less pronounced and much more similar levels of inequality aversion.

Keywords: social preferences, redistribution, optimal income taxation, labor supply

JEL Classification: H11, H21, D63, C63

Suggested Citation

Bargain, Olivier and Dolls, Mathias and Neumann, Dirk and Peichl, Andreas and Siegloch, Sebastian, Comparing Inequality Aversion Across Countries When Labor Supply Responses Differ. IZA Discussion Paper No. 7215. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2223142

Olivier Bargain (Contact Author)

IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

University College Dublin (UCD) ( email )

Belfield, Dublin 4 4
Ireland
+353 1 716 8357 (Phone)
+353 1 283 0068 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.ucd.ie/economics/staff/obargain/obargain.htm

Mathias Dolls

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute) - Ifo Institute ( email )

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, 01069
Germany

HOME PAGE: http://www.cesifo-group.de/ifoHome/CESifo-Group/ifo/ifo-Mitarbeiter/cvifo-dolls_m.html

IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Dirk Neumann

University of Cologne ( email )

Albertus-Magnus-Platz
Cologne, 50923
Germany

Andreas Peichl

ZEW – Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research ( email )

P.O. Box 10 34 43
L 7,1
D-68034 Mannheim, 68034
Germany

University of Mannheim - School of Economics (VWL) ( email )

Mannheim 68131
Germany

IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

University of Essex - Institute for Social and Economic Research (ISER)

Wivenhoe Park
Colchester CO4 3SQ
United Kingdom

Sebastian Siegloch

IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

University of Mannheim - Department of Economics ( email )

D-68131 Mannheim
Germany

ZEW – Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research - Corporate Taxation and Public Finance Research ( email )

United States

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute) ( email )

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

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