NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

NBER Working Papers by Alexander M. Gelber

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Working Papers

October 2013Earnings Adjustment Frictions: Evidence from the Social Security Earnings Test
with Damon Jones, Daniel W. Sacks: w19491
We study frictions in adjusting earnings to changes in the Social Security Annual Earnings Test (AET) using a panel of Social Security Administration microdata on one percent of the U.S. population from 1961 to 2006. Individuals continue to "bunch" at the convex kink the AET creates even when they are no longer subject to the AET, consistent with the existence of earnings adjustment frictions in the U.S. We develop a novel framework for estimating an earnings elasticity and an adjustment cost using information on the amount of bunching at kinks before and after policy changes in earnings incentives around the kinks. We apply this method in settings in which individuals face changes in the AET benefit reduction rate, and we estimate in a baseline case that the earnings elasticity with respe...
August 2012Equalizing Outcomes and Equalizing Opportunities: Optimal Taxation when Children's Abilities Depend on Parents' Resources
with Matthew C. Weinzierl: w18332
Empirical research suggests that parents' economic resources affect their children's future earnings abilities. Optimal tax policy therefore treats future ability distributions as endogenous to current taxes. We model this endogeneity, calibrate the model to match estimates of the intergenerational transmission of earnings ability in the United States, and use the model to simulate such an optimal policy numerically. The optimal policy in this context is more redistributive toward low-income parents than existing U.S. tax policy. It also increases the probability that low-income children move up the economic ladder, generating a present-value welfare gain of one and three-quarters percent of consumption in our baseline case.
December 2011Children’s Schooling and Parents’ Investment in Children: Evidence from the Head Start Impact Study
with Adam Isen: w17704
Parents may have important effects on their children, but little work in economics explores whether children's schooling opportunities crowd out or encourage parents' investment in children. We analyze data from the Head Start Impact Study, which granted randomly-chosen preschool-aged children the opportunity to attend Head Start. We find that Head Start causes a substantial increase in parents' involvement with their children—such as time spent reading to children, math activities, or days spent with children by fathers who do not live with their children—both during and after the period when their children are potentially enrolled in Head Start. We discuss a variety of mechanisms that are consistent with our findings, including a simple model we present in which Head Start impacts pare...
December 2009Taxes and Time Allocation: Evidence from Single Women
with Joshua W. Mitchell: w15583
Hundreds of papers have investigated how incentives and policies affect hours worked in the market. This paper examines how income taxes affect time allocation in the other two-thirds of the day. Using the Panel Study of Income Dynamics from 1975 to 2004, we analyze the response of single women's housework, labor supply, and other time to variation in tax and transfer schedules across income levels, number of children, states, and time. We find that when the economic reward to participating in the labor force increases, market work increases and housework decreases, with the decrease in housework accounting for approximately two-thirds of the increase in market work. Analysis of repeated cross-sections of time diary data from 1975 to 2004 shows that changes in "home production" account...

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