- The effects of SSC are very much context specific because they are not, strictly speaking, taxes (they entitle the workers to future income) and the precise way in which contributions are tied to benefits matters a lot for the behavioral responses.
- The overall tax increase is likely to be borne mostly by employees (i.e., net wages are expected to decrease by around half of the total SSC increase). Here is a reference on this. Importantly, the shifting of the tax burden towards employees seems to be stronger when the perceived link between SSC and pension benefits is stronger.
- Estimating the impact of the nominal (or legal) sharing of the tax burden between employers and employees is difficult because of identification issues which are common to all the empirical literature on labor supply responses to tax changes. It is hard to disentangle changes in marginal and/or average tax rates on reported income from other non-tax factors such as unmeasured effort on the job, career choices, tax avoidance, and tax evasion. Exploiting a reform on SSC implemented in Greece in 92, which in a nutshell amounted to an increase in SSC of both employers and employees for high-wage earners, Emmanuel Saez and co-authors conclude the following. Firstly, labor supply is inelastic with respect to social security contributions. Secondly, the legal incidence of the SSC does matter, in the sense that the workers' net wage decreases following the increase in the employee SSC and the employers pay a higher gross wage following the increase in their own part of the SSC. While the authors themselves ask for caution in the generalization of their results to other contexts, this is still the best contribution that I know for the current debate.
work more attractive or to stimulate aggregate consumption."
All in all, it seems that we will observe a transfer from workers to employers after all. This will contribute further to the decrease in the families' disposable income and to the number of private insolvencies in the country. Several questions remain. Will the positive effect of the decrease in SSC for employers outweigh the negative impact of the decrease in domestic demand? If they do, what will the firms do with increased profits? One has to be extremely careful about the non-tradables sector. So far, I haven't seen any policy announcement in this regard. The capacity of the government to regulate the firms in order to make them shift their eventual savings into more employment creation or price decreases is a fundamental political test which will shed light on whether this government is really catering for the special interests of a few firm share holders or the general interest. Let's wait and see.