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Extended benefits and the duration of UI spells: evidence from the New Jersey extended benefit program

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  • Card, David
  • Levine, Phillip B.

Abstract

In 1996 a political trade-off in the New Jersey legislature led to a six-month program that provided up to 13 additional weeks of exhausted their regular benefit entitlement. We use this unique episode to provide new evidence on the effect of changes in the duration of unemployment insurance (UI) benefits on the behavior of UI claimants. Unlike most benefit extensions, the New Jersey Extended Benefit (NJEB) program arose during a period of stable economic conditions, allowing us to sidestep the important issue of endogenous policy adoption. We use aggregate state-level data and administrative records for individual UI claimants from before, during, and after the NJEB program to estimate its impact on unemployment spell lengths. Overall, we find that the NJEB program raised the fraction of UI claimants who exhausted their regular benefits by 1-3 percentage points. More importantly, however, we find that the short-term nature of the benefit extension substantially moderated its effect. For individuals who were receiving UI when the benefit extension was passed, we estimate that the rate of leaving UI fell by about 15 percent. Simulations suggest that if the program had run long enough to affect UI claimants from the first day of their spell, the fraction of recipients exhausting regular benefits would have risen by 7 percentage points, and the average recipient would have collected about one extra week or regular benefits.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Public Economics.

Volume (Year): 78 (2000)
Issue (Month): 1-2 (October)
Pages: 107-138

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Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:78:y:2000:i:1-2:p:107-138

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505578

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  1. Bruce D. Meyer & Dan T. Rosenbaum, 1996. "Repeat Use of Unemployment Insurance," NBER Working Papers 5423, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Nickell, Stephen & Layard, Richard, 1999. "Labor market institutions and economic performance," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 46, pages 3029-3084 Elsevier.
  3. Moffitt, Robert & Nicholson, Walter, 1982. "The Effect of Unemployment Insurance on Unemployment: The Case of Federal Supplemental Benefits," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 64(1), pages 1-11, February.
  4. McCall, Brian P, 1996. "Unemployment Insurance Rules, Joblessness, and Part-Time Work," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 64(3), pages 647-82, May.
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  6. Moffitt, Robert, 1985. "Unemployment insurance and the distribution of unemployment spells," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 28(1), pages 85-101, April.
  7. Winter-Ebmer, Rudolf, 1998. "Potential Unemployment Benefit Duration and Spell Length: Lessons from a Quasi-Experiment in Austria," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 60(1), pages 33-45, February.
  8. Cynthia K. Gustafson & Phillip B. Levine, 1998. "Less-Skilled Workers, Welfare Reform, and the Unemployment Insurance System," NBER Working Papers 6489, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. John C. Ham & Samuel Rea, 1986. "Unemployment Insurance and Male Unemployment Duration in Canada," Working Papers 592, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  10. David Card & Phillip B. Levine, 1998. "Extended Benefits and the Duration of UI Spells: Evidence from the New Jersey Extended Benefit Program," NBER Working Papers 6714, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Jennifer Hunt, 1992. "The Effect of Unemployment Compensation on Unemployment Duration in Germany," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 50, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  12. Lawrence Katz & Bruce Meyer, 1988. "The Impact of the Potential Duration of Unemployment Benefits on the Duration of Unemployment," Working Papers 621, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  13. Bruce D. Meyer, 1988. "Unemployment Insurance And Unemployment Spells," NBER Working Papers 2546, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Saul J. Blaustein, 1993. "Unemployment Insurance in the United States: The First Half Century," Books from Upjohn Press, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, number uius.
  15. Anderson, Patricia M & Meyer, Bruce D, 1997. "Unemployment Insurance Takeup Rates and the After-Tax Value of Benefits," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(3), pages 913-37, August.
  16. McCall, Brian P, 1995. "The Impact of Unemployment Insurance Benefit Levels on Recipiency," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 13(2), pages 189-98, April.
  17. Dale Mortensen, 1984. "Job Search and Labor Market Analysis," Discussion Papers 594, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  18. Rebecca Blank & David Card & Whitney Newey, 1988. "Recent Trends in Insured and Uninsured Unemployment: Is There an Explanation?," Working Papers 623, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  19. Machin, Stephen & Manning, Alan, 1999. "The causes and consequences of longterm unemployment in Europe," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 47, pages 3085-3139 Elsevier.
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