NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Taxes and Time Allocation: Evidence from Single Women

Alexander M. Gelber, Joshua W. Mitchell

NBER Working Paper No. 15583
Issued in December 2009
NBER Program(s):   EFG   LS   PE

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 for at least half of the increase in market hours of work in response to policy changes. Data on expenditures from the Consumer Expenditure Survey from 1980 to 2003 show some evidence that expenditures on market goods likely to substitute for housework increase in response to a greater incentive to join the labor force. The baseline estimates imply that the elasticity of substitution between consumption of home and market goods is 2.43. The results are consistent with the classic time allocation model of Becker (1965).

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w15583

Published: Taxes and Time Allocation: Evidence from Single Women and Men, with Joshua W. Mitchell, Review of Economic Studies 2012, 79(3), 863-897 (lead article; earlier version circulated as NBER Working Paper 15583, "Taxes and Time Allocation: Evidence from Single Women").

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