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The Macroeconomic Role of Unemployment Compensation

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  • Tomer Blumkin
  • Yossi Hadar
  • Eran Yashiv
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    Abstract

    The standard motivation for unemployment compensation is consumption smoothing and most papers in the literature have analyzed trade-offs involving consumption smoothing and moral hazard. This paper shows how such policy can increase output by enhancing the assignment of workers to jobs in the face of firm productivity heterogeneity and skill-biased technological change. It shows that in order to do so policy needs to be a function of the properties of the firm's productivity distribution. The paper undertakes an empiricallygrounded, normative analysis of this issue. The analysis also bears upon the wage distribution, showing how optimal unemployment compensation policy is affected by wages and affects them in turn. A key insight emerging from the analysis is that the degree of firm productivity heterogeneity, in terms of skewness and variance, matters for the design of the time path of unemployment compensation.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Centre for Economic Performance, LSE in its series CEP Discussion Papers with number dp0909.

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    Date of creation: Feb 2009
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    Handle: RePEc:cep:cepdps:dp0909

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    Web page: http://cep.lse.ac.uk/_new/publications/series.asp?prog=CEP

    Related research

    Keywords: Productivity; heterogeneity; unemployment compensation policy; technological change; assortative matching;

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    1. Steven J. Davis & John C. Haltiwanger & Scott Schuh, 1998. "Job Creation and Destruction," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262540932, December.
    2. Marimon, Ramon & Zilibotti, Fabrizio, 1999. "Unemployment vs. Mismatch of Talents: Reconsidering Unemployment Benefits," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 109(455), pages 266-91, April.
    3. Petrongolo, Barbara & Pissarides, Christopher, 2000. "Looking Into The Black Box: A Survey Of The Matching Function," CEPR Discussion Papers 2409, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    4. Abowd, J.M. & Kramarz, F. & Margolis, D.N., 1995. "High-Wage Workers and High-Wage Firms," Cahiers de recherche 9503, Universite de Montreal, Departement de sciences economiques.
    5. Albrecht, James W & Axell, Bo, 1983. "An Equilibrium Model of Search Unemployment," Working Paper Series 99, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
    6. Yashiv, E., 1999. "The Determinants of Equilibrium Unemployment," Papers 36-99, Tel Aviv.
    7. Timothy Dunne & Lucia Foster & John Haltiwanger & Kenneth R. Troske, 2004. "Wage and Productivity Dispersion in United States Manufacturing: The Role of Computer Investment," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 22(2), pages 397-430, April.
    8. Dew-Becker, Ian & Gordon, Robert J, 2005. "Where did the Productivity Growth Go? Inflation Dynamics and the Distribution of Income," CEPR Discussion Papers 5419, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    9. James Albrecht & Susan Vroman, 2001. "Equilibrium Search with Time-Varying Unemployment Benefits," CESifo Working Paper Series 487, CESifo Group Munich.
    10. Moen, Espen R, 1997. "Competitive Search Equilibrium," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(2), pages 385-411, April.
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    12. Moen, Espen R, 2002. "Do Good Workers Hurt Bad Workers - or is it the Other Way Around?," CEPR Discussion Papers 3471, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    13. Christopher Pissarides, 1997. "The impact of employment tax cuts on unemployment and wages : the role of unemployment benefits and tax structure," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 2332, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    14. Diamond, Peter A., 1971. "A model of price adjustment," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 3(2), pages 156-168, June.
    15. Diamond, Peter A, 1981. "Mobility Costs, Frictional Unemployment, and Efficiency," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(4), pages 798-812, August.
    16. Julia I. Lane & John C. Haltiwanger & James Spletzer, 1999. "Productivity Differences across Employers: The Roles of Employer Size, Age, and Human Capital," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(2), pages 94-98, May.
    17. Baily, Martin Neil, 1978. "Some aspects of optimal unemployment insurance," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(3), pages 379-402, December.
    18. Hopenhayn, H. & Nicolini, P.J., 1996. "Optimal Unemployment Insurance," RCER Working Papers 421, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).
    19. Flemming, J. S., 1978. "Aspects of optimal unemployment insurance : Search, leisure, savings and capital market imperfections," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(3), pages 403-425, December.
    20. Acemoglu, D. & Shimer, R., 1997. "Efficient Unemployment Insurance," Working papers 97-9, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
    21. David H. Autor & Lawrence F. Katz & Melissa S. Kearney, 2006. "The Polarization of the U.S. Labor Market," NBER Working Papers 11986, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    22. Ian Dew-Becker & Robert J. Gordon, 2005. "Where Did Productivity Growth Go? Inflation Dynamics and the Distribution of Income," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 36(2), pages 67-150.
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