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The Optimal Design of Unemployment Insurance and Employment Protection. A First Pass

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  • Olivier Blanchard
  • Jean Tirole

Abstract

Much of the policy discussion of labor market institutions has been at the margin, with proposals to tighten unemployment benefits, reduce employment protection, and so on. There has been little discussion however of what the ultimate goal and architecture should be. The paper focuses on characterizing this ultimate goal, the optimal architecture of labor market institutions. We start our analysis with a simple benchmark, with risk averse workers, risk neutral firms and random shocks to productivity. In this benchmark, we show that optimality requires both unemployment insurance and employment protection---in the form of layoff taxes; it also requires that layoff taxes be equal to unemployment benefits. We then explore the implications of four broad categories of deviations: limits on insurance, limits on layoff taxes, ex-post wage bargaining, and heterogeneity of firms or workers. We show how the architecture must be modified in each case. The scope for insurance may be more limited than in the benchmark; so may the scope for employment protection. The general principle remains however, namely the need to look at unemployment insurance and employment protection together, rather than in isolation.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 10443.

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Date of creation: Apr 2004
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:10443

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  1. Acemoglu, D. & Shimer, R., 1997. "Efficient Unemployment Insurance," Working papers 97-9, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  2. Gary D. Hansen & Ayse Imrohoroglu, 1990. "The Role of Unemployment Insurance in an Economy with Liquidity Constraints and Moral Hazard," UCLA Economics Working Papers 583, UCLA Department of Economics.
  3. Akerlof, George A & Miyazaki, Hajime, 1980. "The Implicit Contract Theory of Unemployment Meets the Wage Bill Argument," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 47(2), pages 321-38, January.
  4. Mortensen, Dale T & Pissarides, Christopher, 2001. "Taxes, Subsidies and Equilibrium Labour Market Outcomes," CEPR Discussion Papers 2989, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. Christopher A. Pissarides, 2000. "Equilibrium Unemployment Theory, 2nd Edition," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262161877, December.
  6. Dale T. Mortensen & Christopher A. Pissarides, 1993. "Job Creation and Job Destruction in the Theory of Unemployment," CEP Discussion Papers dp0110, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  7. Daron Acemoglu & Robert Shimer, 1999. "Productivity Gains from Unemployment Insurance," Working papers 99-29, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  8. Fernando Alvarez & Marcel Veracierto, 1998. "Search, self-insurance and job-security provisions," Working Paper Series WP-98-2, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  9. Christopher Pissarides, 2002. "Consumption and savings with unemployment risk: implications for optimal employment contracts," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 2211, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  10. Azariadis, Costas, 1975. "Implicit Contracts and Underemployment Equilibria," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 83(6), pages 1183-1202, December.
  11. Baily, Martin Neil, 1974. "Wages and Employment under Uncertain Demand," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 41(1), pages 37-50, January.
  12. Pissarides, Christopher, 2002. "Consumption and Savings with Unemployment Risk: Implications for Employment Contracts," CEPR Discussion Papers 3367, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  13. Pierre Cahuc & Winfried Koeniger, 2007. "Feature: Employment Protection Legislation," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 117(521), pages 185-188, 06.
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