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Interesting Paper

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yessir Posted: Wed, Jul 28 2010 12:49 AM




We investigate the importance of Veblen effects on work hours, namely the manner in which a desire to emulate the consumption standards of the rich influences individuals’ allocation of time between labor and leisure. Our model of the choice of work hours captures Veblen effects by taking account of the influence of the consumption of the well-to-do on the marginal utility of consumption by the less well off: the main result is that work hours are increasing in the degree of income inequality. We use data on work hours of manufacturing employees in ten countries over the period 1968-1992, along with data on inequality of income to explore these hypotheses. Inequality is a predictor of work hours in both OLS and country fixed effects estimates; its effects are large, and estimates are robust across a variety of specifications. We show that in the presence of Veblen effects a social welfare optimum cannot be implemented by a flat tax on consumption but may be accomplished by more complicated (progressive) consumption taxes or by subsidizing the leisure of the rich.



What do you think?

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What even raised this question to begin with, and how do social planners know where this "social welfare optimum" is, pray tell? How would taxes achieve it (i.e.  by interfering in voluntarily undertaken exchanges)? A few questions that spring to mind.

Freedom of markets is positively correlated with the degree of evolution in any society...

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