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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. 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.
  2. Pissarides, Christopher, 2002. "Consumption and Savings with Unemployment Risk: Implications for Employment Contracts," CEPR Discussion Papers 3367, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Mortensen, Dale T & Pissarides, Christopher A, 1994. "Job Creation and Job Destruction in the Theory of Unemployment," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 61(3), pages 397-415, July.
  4. Mark Gertler & Simon Gilchrist, 1991. "Monetary Policy, Business Cycles and the Behavior of Small Manufacturing Firms," NBER Working Papers 3892, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Katherine Baicker & Claudia Goldin & Lawrence F. Katz, 1997. "A Distinctive System: Origins and Impact of U.S. Unemployment Compensation," NBER Working Papers 5889, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. 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.
  7. Fernando Alvarez & Marcel Veracierto, 1998. "Search, self-insurance and job-security provisions," Working Paper Series WP-98-2, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  8. 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.
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  10. Daron Acemoglu & Robert Shimer, 1999. "Productivity Gains from Unemployment Insurance," Working papers 99-29, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  11. Fernando Alvarez & Marcelo Veracierto, 1999. "Labor market policies in an equilibrium search model," Working Paper Series WP-99-10, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  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. Christopher A. Pissarides, 2002. "Consumption and Savings with Unemployment Risk: Implications for Optimal Employment Contracts," CEP Discussion Papers dp0542, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  14. Azariadis, Costas, 1975. "Implicit Contracts and Underemployment Equilibria," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 83(6), pages 1183-1202, December.
  15. Daron Acemoglu & Robert Shimer, 1998. "Efficient Unemployment Insurance," NBER Working Papers 6686, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Mortensen, Dale T & Pissarides, Christopher, 2001. "Taxes, Subsidies and Equilibrium Labour Market Outcomes," CEPR Discussion Papers 2989, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  17. Shavell, Steven & Weiss, Laurence, 1979. "The Optimal Payment of Unemployment Insurance Benefits over Time," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(6), pages 1347-62, December.
  18. Baily, Martin Neil, 1974. "Wages and Employment under Uncertain Demand," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 41(1), pages 37-50, January.
  19. Winkelmann, Liliana & Winkelmann, Rainer, 1998. "Why Are the Unemployed So Unhappy? Evidence from Panel Data," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 65(257), pages 1-15, February.
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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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