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Liquidity and Insurance for the Unemployed

Author

Listed:
  • Robert Shimer
  • Ivan Werning

Abstract

We study unemployment insurance for workers who sequentially sample job opportunities. We focus on the optimal timing of benefits and the desirability of allowing borrowing and saving. When workers have constant absolute risk aversion, a simple policy is optimal: a constant benefit during unemployment, a constant tax during employment, and free access to a riskless asset. With constant relative risk aversion, optimal policy involves nearly constant benefits; more elaborate policies offer minuscule welfare gains. We highlight two distinct policy roles: ensuring workers have sufficient liquidity to smooth their consumption; and providing unemployment subsidies to insure against uncertain spell duration. (JEL J65)

Suggested Citation

  • Robert Shimer & Ivan Werning, 2008. "Liquidity and Insurance for the Unemployed," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(5), pages 1922-1942, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:98:y:2008:i:5:p:1922-42
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.98.5.1922
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
    • J64 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Unemployment: Models, Duration, Incidence, and Job Search
    • J65 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Unemployment Insurance; Severance Pay; Plant Closings

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