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Journal Article

Work incentives at the extensive and intensive margin in Europe: the role of taxes, benefits and population characteristics


Publication date

Nov 2020


Tax and benefit systems play an important role in determining work incentives at both the extensive and the intensive margin of labour supply. The aim of this paper is to provide a comprehensive comparative analysis of work incentives in Europe. Our analysis makes use of microsimulation techniques and representative household surveys from all 27 EU countries and the UK to compare the distribution of short- and long-term participation tax rates and marginal effective tax rates across population subgroups. We focus on people currently in work and characterise the population facing low work incentives in each country. Our results highlight the large variation in the distribution of work incentives across European countries, explained not only by differences in the design of tax-benefit systems, but also by the characteristics of the labour force across countries. Unemployment insurance benefits contribute substantially to short-term participation tax rates and explain on average a 20 percentage point difference between work incentives of short- versus long-term unemployment. Our analysis further highlights the need to use microdata to study differences across countries in terms of the population subgroups facing low incentives to work with the aim to inform the policy debate on potential reforms to make work pay.

Published in

Social Indicators Research

Volume and page numbers

152 , 705 -778





Labour Market, Unemployment, Welfare Benefits, Microsimulation, and Taxation


Not held in Hilary Doughty Research Library - bibliographic reference only

Related publications

  1. Work incentives at the extensive and intensive margin in Europe: the role of taxes, benefits and population characteristics

    Holguer Xavier Jara Tamayo, Katrin Gasior, and Mattia Makovec

    1. Labour Market
    2. Unemployment
    3. Welfare Benefits
    4. Microsimulation
    5. Taxation


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