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Optimal Unemployment Insurance in an Estimated Job Search Model with Savings

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  • Rasmus Lentz

    (Boston University)

Abstract

This paper estimates a job search model with savings and determines optimal unemployment benefit policy for the estimated model. For observed and unobserved worker characteristics, the estimation strategy relates observed unemployment spell durations to the model implied unemployment hazard rate. The model is estimated on Danish unemployment spell data which include high quality wealth and income information. The estimation shows that Danish workers respond to changes in economic incentives in ways consistent with the model and that the magnitude of the effect of the responses on the unemployment hazard rate is small. Optimal unemployment benefit level policy is determined as a trade-off between providing insurance against consumption fluctuation and the moral hazard of reducing the worker's incentives to search back into employment. Given the estimated low level of moral hazard, the optimal benefit level is quite high even though workers can self-insure via savings. Depending on the interest rate which is effectively the cost of using savings as self-insurance, the optimal replacement rate ranges between 43% and 82%. The policy analysis emphasizes the importance of including transitional dynamics to avoid a significant downward bias associated with a simple steady state comparison analysis.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics. Centre for Applied Microeconometrics in its series CAM Working Papers with number 2004-10.

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Length: 36 pages
Date of creation: Mar 2003
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:kud:kuieca:2004_10

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  1. Hopenhayn, H. & Nicolini, P.J., 1996. "Optimal Unemployment Insurance," RCER Working Papers 421, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).
  2. Heckman, James J. & Singer, Burton, 1984. "Econometric duration analysis," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 24(1-2), pages 63-132.
  3. Robert Shimer & Ivan Werning, 2008. "Liquidity and Insurance for the Unemployed," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(5), pages 1922-42, December.
  4. Rasmus Lentz & Torben Tranæs, 2002. "Job Search and Savings: Wealth Effects and Duration Dependence," CAM Working Papers 2004-11, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics. Centre for Applied Microeconometrics, revised Nov 2003.
  5. JOSEPH Gilles and WEITZENBLUM Thomas, 2001. "Unemployment Insurance and Precautionary Savings : Transitional Dynamics vs. Steady State Equilibrium," Computing in Economics and Finance 2001 96, Society for Computational Economics.
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  7. Eckstein, Zvi & van den Berg, Gerard J, 2004. "Empirical Labour Search: A Survey," CEPR Discussion Papers 4199, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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  9. Narayana Kocherlakota, 2004. "Figuring out the Impact of Hidden Savings on Optimal Unemployment Insurance," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 7(3), pages 541-554, July.
  10. Wang, Cheng & Williamson, Stephen D., 2002. "Moral Hazard, Optimal Unemployment Insurance and Experience Rating," Staff General Research Papers 10133, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
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  12. Daron Acemoglu & Robert Shimer, 1998. "Efficient Unemployment Insurance," NBER Working Papers 6686, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Baily, Martin Neil, 1978. "Some aspects of optimal unemployment insurance," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(3), pages 379-402, December.
  14. Yann Algan & Arnaud Cheron & Jean-Olivier Hairault & Francois Langot, 2003. "Wealth Effect on Labor Market Transitions," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 6(1), pages 156-178, January.
  15. van den Berg, Gerard J, 1999. "Empirical Inference with Equilibrium Search Models of the Labour Market," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 109(456), pages F283-306, June.
  16. S. Rao Aiyagari, 1993. "Uninsured idiosyncratic risk and aggregate saving," Working Papers 502, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  17. Meyer, Bruce D, 1990. "Unemployment Insurance and Unemployment Spells," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 58(4), pages 757-82, July.
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