Taxes, Nudges, and Conformity: Essays in Labor and Behavioral Economics

Academic dissertation for the Degree of Doctor of Economics

Author(s): Johan Egebark
Year: 2015Pages: 155Publisher: Department of Economics, Stockholm UniversityCity: Stockholm
ISBN: 978-91-7649-093-8

Taxes, Nudges, and Conformity: Essays in Labor and Behavioral Economics Johan Egebark

Advisor: Peter Fredriksson

Keywords: Youth unemployment, Payroll tax, Self-employment tax, Tax subsidy, Labor costs, Resource conservation, Default option, Moral appeal, Social interactions, Contagion, Natural Field Experiment.  


This thesis consists of four papers summarized as follows.

Do Payroll Tax Cuts Raise Youth Employment? We study whether payroll tax reductions are an effective means to raise youth employment. In 2007, the Swedish employer-paid payroll tax was cut on a large scale for young workers, substantially reducing labor costs for this group. Using the variation in payroll taxes across cohorts, we estimate a significant, but small, impact both on employment and on wages.

Effects of Taxes on Youth Self-Employment and Income. I examine the link between taxes and youth self-employment. I make use of a Swedish reform that made the payroll tax and the self-employment tax vary by age. The results suggest that youth self-employment is insensitive to tax reductions, both in the short run and in the somewhat longer run. For those defined as self-employed, I find positive effects on income from self-employment, and negative effects on income from wage employment.

Can Indifference Make the World Greener? We conducted a natural field experiment at a large university in Sweden to evaluate the effects of two resource conservation programs. The first intervention consisted of a campaign that actively tried to convince people to cut back on printing in general, and to use double-sided printing whenever possible. The second intervention exploited people's tendency to stick with pre-set alternatives. At random points in time we changed the printers’ default settings, from single-sided to double-sided printing. Whereas the moral appeal had no impact, the default change cut paper use by 15 percent.

The Origins of Behavioral Contagion: Evidence from a Field Experiment on Facebook. We explore the micro-level foundations of behavioral contagion by running a natural field experiment on the networking site Facebook. Members of Facebook express positive support to content on the website by clicking a Like button. We show that users are more prone to support content if someone else has done so before.


Egebark, Johan (2015), Taxes, Nudges, and Conformity: Essays in Labor and Behavioral Economics. Doctoral Dissertation in Economics. Stockholm: Department of Economics, Stockholm University.

Johan Egebark


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