DP2089 Green Tax Reform and Competitiveness

Author(s): Erkki Koskela, Ronnie Schöb, Hans-Werner Sinn
Publication Date: February 1999
Keyword(s): Competitiveness, green tax reform, Involuntary Unemployment
JEL(s): H20, J51
Programme Areas: Public Economics
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=2089

This paper develops a model of a small open economy that produces an export good with domestic labour and imported energy and is stuck in an unemployment situation resulting from an excessive fixed net-of-tax wage rate. We study a revenue-neutral green tax reform that substitutes energy for wage taxes. A moderate green tax reform will boost employment, improve welfare and increase the economy's competitiveness. The driving force behind these results is the technological substitution process that a green tax reform will bring about by inducing the producers to substitute labour for energy as factors of production. The resulting reduction in unemployment is welfare increasing since energy, which the country has to buy at its true national opportunity cost, is replaced with labour, whose price is above its social opportunity cost. As long as the labour tax rate exceeds the resource tax rate, a revenue-neutral green-tax reform will reduce the domestic firms' unit cost of production and hence increase international competitiveness and output of the economy.