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Optimal Taxation and (Female)-Labor Force Participation over the Cycle

Jung, Philip (2007): Optimal Taxation and (Female)-Labor Force Participation over the Cycle.

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Abstract

Optimal labor tax results over the cycle are, quantitatively, typically driven by an estimate of the intratemporal elasticity of substitution that governs the reaction of hours worked to business cycle shocks and tax rate changes. A recent literature tries to decompose this intratemporal elasticity into its main components, the "Ins and Outs of Unemployment" (Shimer(2007)) to emphasize the importance of the extensive margin. This paper provides a model that a.) endogenizes all transition rates including firings and quits on the job as well as movements in and out of inactivity, b.) explains the fluctuations in these rates quantitatively while allowing for differences across gender and c.) remains tractable and open to Ramsey-optimal policy.

We estimate the model on US-data for the years 1970:1 to 2004:4 and show that the model predicts all labor market flows very well. We apply our model to show that observed labor tax rates over the cycle correspond fairly closely to the implied Ramsey-optimal ones.

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