Workers, Firms and Welfare Four Essays in Economics
Sammanfattning: This thesis comprises four chapters, in two parts. The first part examines the result of a Swedish payroll tax reduction; first from the perspective of the worker, then from that of the employer. The second half of the thesis concerns subjective well-being, both from an individual and from an aggregate viewpoint.Payroll Taxes and Youth Labor Demand. In 2007, the Swedish payroll tax was reduced substantially for young workers. This paper examines whether targeted payroll tax reductions are effective in raising youth employment. We estimate a small impact, both on employment and on wages. However, the effect differs markedly across ages, with 4–5 times higher impact on 22–23 year-olds compared to 25-year-olds. Additionally, the employment effects are strongly procyclical, approaching zero in the deep recession. We calculate that the estimated cost per created job is more than four times that of directly hiring workers at the average wage.Payroll Taxes and Firm Performance. The Swedish payroll tax reform of 2007 had the effect that firms' average social fees came to depend on the age structure of their employees. This makes it possible to estimate how firms respond to shocks in labor costs. We find a significant, but very small effect on gross investments, and a negative, but not statistically significant, impact on labor productivity. There are no effects on exit rates or profitability.Beyond Income: The Importance for Life Satisfaction of Having Access to a Cash Margin. We study how life satisfaction among adult Swedes is influenced by having access to a cash margin, i.e. a moderate amount of money that could be acquired on short notice either through own savings, by loan from family or friends, or by other means. We find that cash margin is a strong and robust predictor of life satisfaction, also when controlling for individual fixed-effects and socio-economic conditions, including income. This suggests that cash margin captures something beyond wealth.On Aggregating Subjective Well-Being. This paper discusses the assumptions underlying the aggregation of individually measured well-being. Any aggregation method is associated with measurability assumptions regarding the underlying well-being measure, as well as moral philosophical assumptions with respect to how individual well-being is weighted into a composite metric. I compare welfare across a set of countries, under alternative aggregation methods, and find that countries often can be ranked under comparatively weak measurement assumptions, and, equally important, that aggregation methods can be chosen so as to refrain from strong ethical preconceptions.
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