Business and Economics > Labor

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Zhiyong An and Mr. David Coady
The benchmark optimal income taxation model of Mirrlees (1971) finds that the optimal marginal income tax rate (MIT) is always non-negative. A key model assumption is the coincidence between social and individual work preferences. This paper extends the model to allow for differences in social and individual work preferences. The theoretical and simulation analyses show that under this model, when the government places a higher social weight on work than individuals, the optimal MIT schedule is shifted downwards, introducing the possibility for optimal wage subsidies at the bottom of the income distribution. This implies lower revenues, demogrants, and overall progressivity.
Mr. David Coady, Samir Jahan, Baoping Shang, and Riki Matsumoto
This paper provides an overview of the design of means-tested Guaranteed Minimum Income schemes, which constitute an important component of social protection systems in European countries. It discusses how key design features differ across countries, including how countries balance the primary objective of poverty alleviation against the desire to both manage the work disincentives inherent in such programs and contain fiscal cost. The analysis finds a clear trade-off between both concerns in practice, with many countries combining low generosity with low benefit withdrawal rates (BWRs) thus prioritizing employment incentives over the primary objective of poverty alleviation. Many countries can reduce this trade off by combining higher generosity with higher BWRs. Countries with very high BWRs should consider reducing these, including through allowing income disregards and time dependent (rather than income-dependent) benefit withdrawal. The work disincentives associated with higher BWRs can also be attenuated through strengthening complementary activation policies that incentivize and support participation in the labor market.
International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
This paper aims to determine how much of the economic slowdown of Albania is owing to cyclical conditions and how much to a reduction in potential growth. The analysis shows that average growth in 2009–14 dropped by 3.2 percentage points relative to 1997–2008, of which 2.8 percentage points are due to lower potential growth. Albania has significant potential to improve its export competitiveness. However, Albania’s competitiveness has shown narrow improvements over the past five years, with weak productivity growth and continued concentration in low-skilled labor-intensive sectors with limited value added. This paper also explores the factors underpinning Albania’s relatively low level of general government revenues.
Mr. Rabah Arezki, Mr. Herbert Lui, Mr. Marc G Quintyn, and Mr. Frederik G Toscani
The paper provides a detailed description of a novel dataset on education attainment in public administrations covering the period 1981-2011 for 178 countries. The dataset uses information extracted from CVs for over 130,000 mid to senior level officials from mainly central banks and ministries of economy and finance. Our main finding is that there is little heterogeneity across regions when considering a non quality-adjusted measure of education attainment in public administrations. Adjusting our measure for quality, using a country wide academic ranking, reveals important cross-regional heterogeneity differing from that of standard measures of education attainment for the general population. The dataset also allows us to uncover important patterns in public administrations' education attainment along gender and seniority across regions. We further use the dataset to explore a few applications which provide some evidence of (i) the importance of salary incentives in attracting highly educated staff and (ii) a positive association between education attainment in public administrations and government effectiveness (e.g. higher tax revenue mobilization, limiting corruption, better public finance management and private market support).
Mr. Chandra Prakash Bhambhri and Mr. Parkash Chander
This paper presents a general framework for characterizing the optimal pattern of subsidies for poverty alleviation under budgetary constraints and suggests possible reforms for the existing pattern of subsidies. The government may subsidize or tax goods in order to meet its objectives. The paper introduces the concept of a consumer equilibrium and shows that there are cases of equilibria in which reforms can generate not only fiscal savings but also Pareto improve the welfare of both poor and wealthy consumers.
Mr. Martin D Kaufman
This paper investigates if there are circumstances where time-varying tax rates could improve welfare and whether such policy can effectively be implemented in practice. While, in principle, variable taxes could improve welfare in some cases, the paper highlights the very particular circumstances that need to prevail. With liquidity constraints, a consumption-tax break is in a better footing to boost consumption and welfare than an income-tax break. A hike in consumption taxes can also be used to restrain consumption and improve welfare under time-consistency problems induced by hyperbolic discounting. However, variable taxes are subject to serious implementation problems fettering their use.
Connel Fullenkamp and Mr. Ralph Chami
Private transfers between individuals or through organized charities are increasingly viewed as an alternative for government social insurance programs. This paper models the incentive effects of government subsidized private transfers and finds that while there is a significant welfare benefit to subsidizing private transfers, there is also a significant welfare cost to this policy. It is shown analytically, as well as through simulations, that the optimal subsidy to private transfers is positive for a wide range of parameter values. This result indicates that subsidized private transfers in net terms are welfare enhancing.
Ms. Jenny E Ligthart
The paper studies the setting of optimal fiscal policy in a second-best world with environmental externalities. The optimal second-best pollution tax is shown to lie below the first-best Pigovian tax, particularly if substitution between labor and polluting intermediate inputs is easy, the labor supply curve is more elastic, and preexisting taxes are large. The optimal level of public abatement is derived from the modified Samuelson rule and is larger if society cares more for the environment, public funds are inexpensive, and public abatement is relatively productive. The analysis also shows that the Samuelson rule should be revised if allowance is made for nonseparabilities in preferences.