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Measuring Unemployment Insurance Generosity

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  • Stéphane Pallage
  • Lyle Scruggs
  • Christian Zimmermann

Abstract

Unemployment insurance policies are multidimensional objects. They are typically defined by waiting periods, eligibility duration, benefit levels and asset tests when eligible, which make intertemporal or international comparisons difficult. To make things worse, labor market conditions, such as the likelihood and duration of unemployment matter when assessing the generosity of different policies. In this paper, we develop a methodology to measure the generosity of unemployment insurance programs with a single metric. We build a first model with such complex characteristics. Our model features heterogeneous agents that are liquidity constrained but can self-insure. We then build a second model that is similar, except that the unemployment insurance is simpler: it is deprived of waiting periods and agents are eligible forever with constant benefits. We then determine which level of benefits in this second model makes agents indifferent between both unemployment insurance policies. We apply this strategy to the unemployment insurance program of the United Kingdom and study how its generosity evolved over time.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by CIRPEE in its series Cahiers de recherche with number 0921.

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Date of creation: 2009
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Handle: RePEc:lvl:lacicr:0921

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Keywords: Social policy; generosity; unemployment insurance; measurement;

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References

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  1. 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.
  2. Marcus Hagedorn & Iourii Manovskii, 2005. "The Cyclical Behavior of Equilibrium Unemployment and Vacancies Revisited," 2005 Meeting Papers 460, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  3. Juan Botero & Simeon Djankov & Rafael Porta & Florencio C. Lopez-De-Silanes, 2004. "The Regulation of Labor," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 119(4), pages 1339-1382, November.
  4. 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.
  5. Mendoza, Enrique G. & Razin, Assaf & Tesar, Linda L., 1994. "Effective tax rates in macroeconomics: Cross-country estimates of tax rates on factor incomes and consumption," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(3), pages 297-323, December.
  6. Hansen, Gary D & Imrohoroglu, Ayse, 1992. "The Role of Unemployment Insurance in an Economy with Liquidity Constraints and Moral Hazard," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(1), pages 118-42, February.
  7. Pallage, Stephane & Zimmermann, Christian, 2001. "Voting on Unemployment Insurance," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 42(4), pages 903-23, November.
  8. Gayle Allard, 2005. "Measuring The Changing Generosity Of Unemployment Benefits: Beyond Existing Indicators," Working Papers Economia wp05-18, Instituto de Empresa, Area of Economic Environment.
  9. Lars Ljungqvist & Thomas J. Sargent, 1998. "The European Unemployment Dilemma," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(3), pages 514-550, June.
  10. Pallage, Stephane & Zimmermann, Christian, 2005. "Heterogeneous labor markets and generosity towards the unemployed: an international perspective," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(1), pages 88-106, March.
  11. Lyle Scruggs, 2006. "The Generosity of Social Insurance, 1971--2002," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 22(3), pages 349-364, Autumn.
  12. Howell David R. & Baker Dean & Glyn Andrew & Schmitt John, 2007. "Are Protective Labor Market Institutions at the Root of Unemployment? A Critical Review of the Evidence," Capitalism and Society, De Gruyter, vol. 2(1), pages 1-73, May.
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Cited by:
  1. Pollak, Andreas, 2013. "Employment Insurance and the Business Cycle," MPRA Paper 49358, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  2. David R. Howell & Miriam Rehm, 2009. "Unemployment Compensation and High European Unemployment: A Reassessment with New Benefit Indicators," Working Papers wp201, Political Economy Research Institute, University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

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