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Optimal Unemployment Insurance

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We investigate the design of an optimal Unemployment Insurance program using an equilibrium search and matching model calibrated using data from the reemployment bonus experiments and secondary sources. We examine (a) the optimal potential duration of UI benefits, (b) the optimal UI replacement rate when the potential duration of benefits is optimal, and (c) the optimal UI replacement rate when the potential duration of benefits is sub-optimal. There are three main conclusions. First, insurance considerations suggest that the potential duration of UI benefits would be unlimited under an optimal program. Hence, existing UI programs in the U.S. provide benefits for too short a period of time. Second, if the potential duration to benefits were unlimited, current replacement rates in the U.S., which are in the neighborhood of .5, would probably be about right. Third, with the potential duration of benefits limited to 26 weeks, as in most states during normal times, replacement rates of .5 are too low the optimal replacement rate is 1 if the potential duration of benefits is limited to 32 weeks or less.

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Paper provided by W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research in its series Upjohn Working Papers and Journal Articles with number cdsaw1997.

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Handle: RePEc:upj:weupjo:cdsaw1997

Note: Appears in Journal of Public Economics 64(3): 359-387
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Keywords: unemployment iinsurance; ui; unemployment compensation; experience rating;

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  1. Flemming, J. S., 1978. "Aspects of optimal unemployment insurance : Search, leisure, savings and capital market imperfections," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(3), pages 403-425, December.
  2. Rebecca Blank & David Card & Whitney Newey, 1988. "Recent Trends in Insured and Uninsured Unemployment: Is There an Explanation?," Working Papers 623, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  3. Baily, Martin Neil, 1978. "Some aspects of optimal unemployment insurance," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(3), pages 379-402, December.
  4. Olivier Jean Blanchard & Peter A. Diamond, 1991. "The Aggregate Matching Function," NBER Working Papers 3175, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Chirinko, Robert S, 1982. "An Empirical Investigation of the Returns to Job Search," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(3), pages 498-501, June.
  6. Abraham, Katharine G, 1983. "Structural-Frictional vs. Deficient Demand Unemployment: Some New Evidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(4), pages 708-24, September.
  7. Carl Davidson & Stephen A. Woodbury, . "The Displacement Effect of Reemployment Bonus Programs," Upjohn Working Papers and Journal Articles cdsaw1993, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
  8. Oliver Jean Blanchard & Peter Diamond, 1989. "The Beveridge Curve," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 20(1), pages 1-76.
  9. Card, David & Levine, Phillip B., 1994. "Unemployment insurance taxes and the cyclical and seasonal properties of unemployment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(1), pages 1-29, January.
  10. Woodbury, Stephen A & Spiegelman, Robert G, 1987. "Bonuses to Workers and Employers to Reduce Unemployment: Randomized Trials in Illinois," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(4), pages 513-30, September.
  11. Carl Davidson & Stephen A. Woodbury, 1996. "Unemployment Insurance and Unemployment: Implications of the Reemployment Bonus Experiments," Upjohn Working Papers and Journal Articles 96-44, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
  12. David Card, 1992. "A Comparative Analysis of Unemployment in Canada and the United States," Working Papers 677, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  13. Jonathan Gruber, 1994. "The Consumption Smoothing Benefits of Unemployment Insurance," NBER Working Papers 4750, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Phillip Levine, 1991. "Spillover Effects Between the Insured and Uninsured Unemployed," Working Papers 663, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  15. Steven Shavell & Laurence Weiss, 1978. "The Optimal Payment of Unemployment Insurance Benefits over Time," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 503, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  16. Shavell, Steven, 1979. "On Moral Hazard and Insurance," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 93(4), pages 541-62, November.
  17. Rothschild, Michael & Stiglitz, Joseph E., 1970. "Increasing risk: I. A definition," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 2(3), pages 225-243, September.
  18. Stephen A. Woodbury, 2009. "Unemployment," Book chapters authored by Upjohn Institute researchers, in: Kenneth G. Dau-Schmidt & Seth D. Harris & Orley Lobel (ed.), Labor and Employment Law and Economics, volume 2, pages 480-516 W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
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