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The Joint Design of Unemployment Insurance and Employment Protection: A First Pass

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  • Olivier J. Blanchard
  • Jean Tirole

Abstract

Unemployment insurance and employment protection are typically discussed and studied in isolation. In this paper, we argue that they are tightly linked, and we focus on their joint optimal design in a simple model, with risk-averse workers, risk-neutral firms, and random shocks to productivity. We show that, in the "first best," unemployment insurance comes with employment protection-in the form of layoff taxes; indeed, optimality requires that layoff taxes be equal to unemployment benefits. We then explore the implications of four broad categories of deviations from first best: limits on insurance, limits on layoff taxes, ex post wage bargaining, and ex ante heterogeneity of firms or workers. We show how the design must be modified in each case. Finally, we draw out the implications of our analysis for current policy debates and reform proposals, from the financing of unemployment insurance, to the respective roles of severance payments and unemployment benefits. (c) 2008 by the European Economic Association.

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Article provided by MIT Press in its journal Journal of the European Economic Association.

Volume (Year): 6 (2008)
Issue (Month): 1 (03)
Pages: 45-77

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Handle: RePEc:tpr:jeurec:v:6:y:2008:i:1:p:45-77

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  1. Daron Acemoglu & Robert Shimer, 1999. "Productivity Gains from Unemployment Insurance," NBER Working Papers 7352, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Katherine Baicker & Claudia Goldin & Lawrence F. Katz, 1998. "A Distinctive System: Origins and Impact of U.S. Unemployment Compensation," NBER Chapters, in: The Defining Moment: The Great Depression and the American Economy in the Twentieth Century, pages 227-264 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Acemoglu, D. & Shimer, R., 1997. "Efficient Unemployment Insurance," Working papers 97-9, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
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  7. Gertler, M. & Gilchrist, S., 1992. "Monetary Policy, Business Cycles and the Behavior of Small Manufacturing Firms," Working Papers 92-08, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
  8. Christopher A. Pissarides, 2002. "Consumption and Savings with Unemployment Risk: Implications for Optimal Employment Contracts," CEP Discussion Papers dp0542, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  9. Akerlof, George A & Miyazaki, Hajime, 1980. "The Implicit Contract Theory of Unemployment Meets the Wage Bill Argument," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 47(2), pages 321-38, January.
  10. Gary D. Hansen & Ayse Imrohoroglu, 1990. "The Role of Unemployment Insurance in an Economy with Liquidity Constraints and Moral Hazard," UCLA Economics Working Papers 583, UCLA Department of Economics.
  11. Steven Shavell & Laurence Weiss, 1978. "The Optimal Payment of Unemployment Insurance Benefits over Time," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 503, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  12. Pauly, Mark V, 1974. "Overinsurance and Public Provision of Insurance: The Roles of Moral Hazard and Adverse Selection," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 88(1), pages 44-62, February.
  13. Dale T. Mortensen & Christopher A. Pissarides, 2002. "Taxes, Subsidies and Equilibrium Labor Market Outcomes," CEP Discussion Papers dp0519, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  14. Hopenhayn, Hugo A & Nicolini, Juan Pablo, 1997. "Optimal Unemployment Insurance," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(2), pages 412-38, April.
  15. Baily, Martin Neil, 1974. "Wages and Employment under Uncertain Demand," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 41(1), pages 37-50, January.
  16. Fernando Alvarez & Marcel Veracierto, 1998. "Search, self-insurance and job-security provisions," Working Paper Series WP-98-2, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  17. Pissarides, Christopher, 2002. "Consumption and Savings with Unemployment Risk: Implications for Employment Contracts," CEPR Discussion Papers 3367, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  18. Dale T. Mortensen & Christopher A. Pissarides, 1993. "Job Creation and Job Destruction in the Theory of Unemployment," CEP Discussion Papers dp0110, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
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  1. It is time to move away from policy witchcraft and into an era where evidence is taken seriously
    by brumley in British Politics and Policy at LSE on 2012-05-28 13:40:02
  2. It is time to move away from policy witchcraft and into an era where evidence is taken seriously
    by Blog Admin in Impact of Social Sciences on 2012-05-29 10:00:44
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