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What shapes the generosity of short- and long-term benefits? A political economy approach

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Degressivity of unemployment benefits is a major feature of social protection in most industrialised countries: the replacement rate (the ratio between the level of welfare benefits and the previous income) typically declines with the length of the unemployment spell. Moreover degressivity of unemployment benefits has significant distributive effects as the risk of long-term unemployment varies from one individual to another. This paper proposes a formal model of political support for unemployment insurance that takes into account the decrease in the level of benefits over time. A discount factor is introduced that diminishes the level of benefits for long-term unemployed. The main predictions of our model are the following: i) Unemployment insurance size negatively depends on both the average level and the heterogeneity of unemployment risk ii) The degressivity increases with the average level and the heterogeneity in the individual level of employability defined as the probability of finding a job when unemployed. These predictions are then tested using a dataset of 24 OECD countries. Empirical results are consistent with the model.

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Paper provided by Université Panthéon-Sorbonne (Paris 1), Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne in its series Documents de travail du Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne with number 13027.

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Length: 58 pages
Date of creation: Mar 2013
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Handle: RePEc:mse:cesdoc:13027

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Keywords: Long-term unemployment; political economy; replacement rate; risk heterogeneity; unemployment insurance; voting behaviour.;

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  1. Andrea Bassanini & Romain Duval, 2009. "Unemployment, institutions and reform complementarities: Re-assessing the aggregate evidence for OECD countries," Post-Print halshs-00395144, HAL.
  2. Casamatta, Georges & Cremer, Helmuth & Pestieau, Pierre, 2000. "Political sustainability and the design of social insurance," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 75(3), pages 341-364, March.
  3. Bruno Amable, 2008. "Structural reforms in Europe and the (in)coherence of institutions," Documents de travail du Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne r08063, Université Panthéon-Sorbonne (Paris 1), Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne.
  4. Sarah Brockhoff & Stéphane Rossignol & Emmanuelle Taugourdeau, 2012. "The three worlds of welfare capitalism revisited," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) halshs-00679066, HAL.
  5. Roland Benabou, 2000. "Unequal Societies: Income Distribution and the Social Contract," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(1), pages 96-129, March.
  6. Thomas Cusack & Torben Iversen & Philipp Rehm, 2006. "Risks at Work: The Demand and Supply Sides of Government Redistribution," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 22(3), pages 365-389, Autumn.
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