How should unemployment benefits respond to the business cycle?
AbstractUnemployment insurance programs balance the benefits of consumption smoothing for unemployed workers against the disincentive effects of unemployment benefits. Such a balancing of benefits and costs is likely sensitive to the cyclical state of the economy, and hence the generosity of benefits should also respond to the cyclical state of the economy. The nature of such responses in an optimal unemployment insurance (UI) program is analyzed in a simple model. The results suggest that an optimal UI program would increase the initial level of benefits and probably extend higher benefits over time in response to a recessionary shock. A simple extension of benefits, such as exists automatically in the system in the United States, provides both poorer insurance and poorer incentives than the optimal program, and does so at a higher cost. Moreover, the current UI system in the U.S. provides a substantially higher level of welfare to workers who lose jobs during tight labor markets.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.) in its series Finance and Economics Discussion Series with number 2003-01.
Date of creation: 2003
Date of revision:
Other versions of this item:
- Kiley Michael T., 2003. "How Should Unemployment Benefits Respond to the Business Cycle?," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 3(1), pages 1-22, July.
- Michael Kiley, 2002. "How Should Unemployment Benefits Respond to the Business Cycle?," Computing in Economics and Finance 2002 167, Society for Computational Economics.
- E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution
- J65 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Unemployment Insurance; Severance Pay; Plant Closings
- J64 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Unemployment: Models, Duration, Incidence, and Job Search
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2003-05-08 (All new papers)
- NEP-DGE-2003-05-08 (Dynamic General Equilibrium)
- NEP-LAB-2003-05-08 (Labour Economics)
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