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New Ways of Evaluating State Unemployment Insurance

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Comparisons among state unemployment insurance systems can be misleading. Frequently quoted indicators of the generosity of their benefits, competitiveness, and adherence to the experience-rating principal are influenced by states' relative economic conditions, thereby obscuring underlying structural differences. Moreover, because the indicators are statewide averages, they obscure important intrastate differences in tax and benefit treatment across types of firms and workers. This article offers alternative indicators based on a simulation approach designed to alleviate these problems. The authors use the simulated experiences of representative workers and firms to compare 28 states and contrast the results with those obtained from more conventional indicators. Given the intricacy of the issues and the harsh trade-offs involved, it is not surprising that debates concerning state UI policy are so contentious. The authors point out that policymakers reviewing the simulations can gain insight into the nature of the trade-offs among policy goals entailed in various UI options. This may even help them to identify "win-win" situations, in which a policy innovation that furthers one goal simultaneously furthers another.

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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 rtcjo1999.

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Handle: RePEc:upj:weupjo:rtcjo1999

Note: Appears in New England Economic Review (March/April 1999): 15-40
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Keywords: unemployment insurance; unemployment compensation; states; evaluation;

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  1. Topel, Robert H, 1984. "Experience Rating of Unemployment Insurance and the Incidence of Unemployment," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 27(1), pages 61-90, April.
  2. Christopher J. O'Leary & Murray Rubin, 1997. "Adequacy of the Weekly Benefit Amount," Book chapters authored by Upjohn Institute researchers, in: Christopher J. O'Leary & Stephen A. Wandner (ed.), Unemployment Insurance in the United States: Analysis of Policy Issues, chapter 5, pages 163-210 W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
  3. Christopher L. Foote, 1998. "Trend Employment Growth and the Bunching of Job Creation and Destruction," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1818, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
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Cited by:
  1. Julia Fath & Clemens Fuest, 2005. "Experience Rating of Unemployment Insurance in the US: A Model for Europe?," CESifo DICE Report, Ifo Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 3(2), pages 45-50, 07.
  2. Peter Matthews & Ivan T. Kandilov & Bradford Maxwell, 2002. "Interstate Differences in Insured Unemployment: Some Recent Evidence," Middlebury College Working Paper Series 0216, Middlebury College, Department of Economics.
  3. Christopher J. O'Leary & Stephen A. Wandner, 2000. "Unemployment Compensation and Older Workers," Upjohn Working Papers and Journal Articles 00-61, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
  4. Christopher J. O'Leary & Robert Tannenwald & Wei-Jang Huang & Pei Zhu, 2000. "Alternative Measures of State UI Systems," Upjohn Working Papers and Journal Articles 00-62, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.

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