Barra is an IFS Research Fellow and Assistant Professor of Economics and Programme Director of the MSc in Economic Policy at Trinity College Dublin. He previously worked at the IFS between 2012 and 2018. Barra's work is focused on taxation, welfare and pensions.
PhD Economics, University College London, 2018
MSc Economics, Trinity College Dublin, 2012
BA (First Class Honours) Economics, Trinity College Dublin, 2011
Using administrative data from Denmark covering the period 1996-2018, we show that young adults who finished education when the not-in-education employment-or-training (NEET) rate was higher than normal experienced lower levels of employment even 8 years later.
This paper exploits kinks and notches in the UK personal tax schedule over a 40-year period to investigate how taxpayers respond to income tax and social security contributions. It also develops a new approach for identifying selection in who responds and for decomposing responses into hours and wage components.
The richest members of our society get a lot of attention. Much of the public conversation about economic inequality is concerned with, loosely, the top 1%, how different they are from the rest, how they got to where they are, and what – if anything – policy should do about it. This briefing note uses data from HMRC’s income tax records to document some key facts about the highest-income people in the country.
Over the past 40 years, the UK has seen an almost continual rise in the proportion of women in employment. The employment rate among women of ‘prime working age’ (aged 25-54) is up from 57% in 1975 to a record high of 78% in 2017.
Debates about welfare policy often discuss benefit recipients as though they are a fixed, relatively small group of people. In reality, people’s circumstances fluctuate frequently over their lifetimes, often dramatically and in ways that matter hugely for entitlements to benefits. People’s health changes, they move in and out of work, their earnings vary, and children come and go. In new research, IFS researchers use data which tracks the same individuals over long periods of time to provide a longer-run perspective on people’s interactions with the benefits system.
Most analyses of inequality and tax and benefit reforms are based on measures of individuals’ circumstances at a point in time. But strong age-profiles in earnings, among other characteristics that the tax and benefit system conditions upon, combined with individuals’ ability to transfer resources across time suggests that measuring circumstances over longer horizons may lead to a very different picture. In this article, we consider how our impression of inequality and the tax and benefit system changes when the horizon under consideration is extended.
From tomorrow, Scottish residents will for the first time be subject to a different income tax schedule from those resident elsewhere in the UK. This is because of the Scottish parliament’s decision to use recently devolved powers over income tax bands and rates for non-savings and non-dividend income to freeze the higher-rate threshold (the point at which the rate of income tax rises from 20% to 40%) for the new financial year. Doing so exacerbates some existing deficiencies that afflict the tax system throughout the UK, and highlights the continuing need for tax reform.
The distributional impact of proposed reforms plays a central role in public debates around tax and transfer policy. We show that accounting for realistic patterns of mobility in employment, earnings and household circumstances over the life-cycle greatly affects our assessment of the distributional effects of tax and transfer reforms.