Date of Award

Spring 4-12-2012

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Jorge Martinez-Vazquez

Second Advisor

Pedro Silos

Third Advisor

Rajeev Dhawan

Fourth Advisor

Shifferaw Gurmu


After Harberger published his influential paper in 1962, many authors have assessed empirically whether the incidence of the corporate income tax (CIT) falls on capital owners, consumers, or workers (Krzyzaniak and Musgrave, 1963; Gordon, 1967; Arulampalam et al., 2008). Today, there is little agreement among economists about who bears the incidence of the CIT (Gruber, 2007; Harberger, 2008a,b). The reason for the little convincing evidence is that the econometric models used in the literature ignore that the factors that motivate changes in corporate tax policy are sometimes correlated with other developments in the economy and disentangling those effects from exogenous policy changes requires tremendous effort.

Using annual information at the industry level for the United States, I propose to investigate the consequences of exogenous changes in corporate tax policy. The identification of these exogenous events follows the work of Romer and Romer (2009, 2010), who provide an extensive analysis of the U.S. federal tax legislation using narrative records from presidential speeches and congressional reports, among other documentations.

The results validate the original predictions from Harberger (1995, 2008a). That is, in the short-term, capital owners bear the full burden of the tax. Over time, however, capital owners are able to shift this burden either by raising consumers' goods prices, or decreasing workers' wages. The magnitude of these e ects depends on the degree of capital intensity as well as the access to international markets and the availability of substitutes for the industry under consideration.