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Financial Wealth, Consumption Smoothing, and Income Shocks due to Job Loss

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  • Hans G. Bloemen

    ()
    (Free University Amsterdam, Department of Economics)

  • Elena G. F. Stancanelli

    ()
    (Observatoire Français des Conjonctures Économiques)

Abstract

One of the reasons for setting up an unemployment insurance scheme is to allow job losers to smooth consumption. However, very little is known to date on the consumption smoothing impact of unemployment benefits. Here, we test for the impact of unemployment benefits on changes in household food expenditure of individuals that have recently experienced a job loss, allowing for different levels of household’s financial wealth. We also study the relationship between unemployment benefits and financial wealth of the unemployed. We use for the empirical analysis a unique dataset rich on information on financial assets and debt of the unemployed. We conclude that there is significant heterogeneity in the consumption responses of job losers to the income shock. For households without financial wealth at the time of job loss, unemployment benefits help smoothing food consumption. The results of estimation also suggest considerable heterogeneity in the relationship between borrowing and the level of benefits. For households running debt before job loss, there is evidence that higher replacement rates lead to postponing of paying off debt.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Observatoire Francais des Conjonctures Economiques (OFCE) in its series Documents de Travail de l'OFCE with number 2003-09.

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Date of creation: 2003
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Handle: RePEc:fce:doctra:0309

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Keywords: Unemployment; Savings. JEL Classification: J64; E21.;

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  1. Blundell, Richard & Magnac, Thierry & Meghir, Costas, 1997. "Savings and Labor-Market Transitions," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 15(2), pages 153-64, April.
  2. Stancanelli, E.G.F. & Bloemen, H.G., 1997. "Individual wealth, reservation wages and transitions into employment," Discussion Paper 9702, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  3. Martin Browning & Annamaria Lusardi, 1995. "Household Saving: Micro Theories and Micro Facts," Department of Economics Working Papers 1995-02, McMaster University.
  4. Stancanelli, Elena G F, 1999. " Do the Rich Stay Unemployed Longer? An Empirical Study for the UK," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 61(3), pages 295-314, August.
  5. Browning, Martin & Crossley, Thomas F., 2001. "Unemployment insurance benefit levels and consumption changes," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 80(1), pages 1-23, April.
  6. Hans G. Bloemen, 2002. "The relation between wealth and labour market transitions: an empirical study for the Netherlands," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 17(3), pages 249-268.
  7. Martin Browning & Thomas F. Crossley, 2000. "Luxuries Are Easier to Postpone: A Proof," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(5), pages 1022-1026, October.
  8. Fortin, Bernard & Lacroix, Guy, 1997. "A Test of the Unitary and Collective Models of Household Labour Supply," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 107(443), pages 933-55, July.
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Cited by:
  1. Raj Chetty, 2005. "Why do Unemployment Benefits Raise Unemployment Durations? Moral Hazard vs. Liquidity," NBER Working Papers 11760, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Thomas Crossley & Hamish Low, 2004. "When Might Unemployment Insurance Matter?," Department of Economics Working Papers 2004-04, McMaster University.
  3. Thomas F. Crossley & Hamish W. Low, 2004. "Borrowing Constraints, the Cost of Precautionary Saving, and Unemployment Insurance," Quantitative Studies in Economics and Population Research Reports 391, McMaster University.

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