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Fuest, Clemens; Huber, Bernd (1997): Wage bargaining, Labor-tax progression, and welfare. In: Journal of Economics / Zeitschrift für Nationalökonomie, Vol. 66, No. 2: pp. 127-150
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This paper analyzes the effect of labor-tax progression on employment and welfare in an economy with a unionized labor market. The government influences wage bargaining through its tax policies. Wages can be reduced by increasing the marginal labor-tax rate. If there are no restrictions on profit taxation, a first-best optimum with full employment is realized; this first-best optimum can always be implemented by a progressive tax schedule. If profit taxation is restricted, unemployment may arise. For this case, we show that the welfare-maximizing degree of tax progression is influenced by a variety of factors, in particular the wage elasticity of labor demand, the distribution of bargaining power, and the existence of unemployment benefits. Examples are given for both progressive and regressive tax structures. Comparative-static analysis reveals that a decline in union bargaining power, an increase in unemployment benefits, and an increase in the overall work force reduce the efficient degree of tax progression.