July 2019

IZA DP No. 12502: Does Tax-Benefit Linkage Matter for the Incidence of Social Security Contributions?

We study the earnings responses to three large increases in employer Social Security contributions (SSCs) in France. We find evidence of full pass-through to workers in the case of a strong and salient relationship between contributions and expected benefits. By contrast, we find limited pass-through of employer SSCs to wages for reforms that increased SSCs with no tax-benefit linkage. Together with a meta-analysis of the literature, we interpret these results as evidence that tax-benefit linkage and its salience matter for incidence, a claim long made by the literature but not backed by direct empirical evidence to date.