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The Effects of Unemployment Insurance Benefits: New Evidence and Interpretation

Author

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  • Johannes F. Schmieder

    () (Department of Economics, Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts 02215)

  • Till von Wachter

    () (Department of Economics, University of California, Los Angeles, California 90095)

Abstract

The Great Recession has renewed interest in unemployment insurance (UI) programs around the world. At the same time, there have been important advances in both theory and measurement of UI. In this review, we first use the theory to present a unified treatment of the welfare effects of UI benefit levels and durations and derive convenient expressions of the full disincentive effect of UI. We then discuss recent estimates of the effect of UI benefit levels and durations on labor supply based on newly available administrative data and quasi-experimental research designs. Although our review of the new estimates confirms the range of negative labor supply effects of the previous literature, we show, based on the model, that these estimates are imperfect proxies for the actual disincentive effects. We also discuss several active areas of research on UI. These include the effect of UI on aggregate labor market outcomes, its effect on job outcomes, its long-term effects, its effects under nonstandard behavioral assumptions, and its interactions with other programs. We isolate several additional areas in need of further research, including estimates of the social value of UI, as well as the effects of UI in less developed countries.

Suggested Citation

  • Johannes F. Schmieder & Till von Wachter, 2016. "The Effects of Unemployment Insurance Benefits: New Evidence and Interpretation," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 8(1), pages 547-581, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:anr:reveco:v:8:y:2016:p:547-581
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Camille Landais, 2015. "Assessing the Welfare Effects of Unemployment Benefits Using the Regression Kink Design," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 7(4), pages 243-278, November.
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    Cited by:

    1. Le Barbanchon, Thomas & Rathelot, Roland & Roulet, Alexandra, 2019. "Unemployment insurance and reservation wages: Evidence from administrative data," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 171(C), pages 1-17.
    2. repec:eee:labeco:v:53:y:2018:i:c:p:1-14 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Andrea Albanese & Corinna Ghirelli & Matteo Picchio, 2019. "Timed to say goodbye: Does unemployment benefit eligibility affect worker layoffs?," Working Papers 436, Universita' Politecnica delle Marche (I), Dipartimento di Scienze Economiche e Sociali.
    4. Camille Landais & Arash Nekoei & Peter Nilsson & David Seim & Johannes Spinnewijn, 2017. "Risk-based Selection in Unemployment Insurance: Evidence and Implications," STICERD - Public Economics Programme Discussion Papers 33, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE.
    5. Hartung, Benjamin & Jung, Philip & Kuhn, Moritz, 2018. "What Hides behind the German Labor Market Miracle? Unemployment Insurance Reforms and Labor Market Dynamics," IZA Discussion Papers 12001, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    6. Mesén Vargas, Juliana & Van der Linden, Bruno, 2017. "Is There Always a Trade-off between Insurance and Incentives? The Case of Unemployment with Subsistence Constraints," IZA Discussion Papers 11034, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    7. Sarah Bana & Kelly Bedard & Maya Rossin-Slater, 2018. "The Impacts of Paid Family Leave Benefits: Regression Kink Evidence from California Administrative Data," NBER Working Papers 24438, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Inna Petrunyk & Christian Pfeifer, 2018. "Shortening the potential duration of unemployment benefits and labor market outcomes: Evidence from a natural experiment in Germany," Working Paper Series in Economics 377, University of Lüneburg, Institute of Economics.
    9. repec:eee:labeco:v:59:y:2019:i:c:p:123-138 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Y. Saks, 2016. "Socio-economic transitions on the labour market : a European benchmarking exercise," Economic Review, National Bank of Belgium, issue iii, pages 41-58, December.
    11. repec:bla:labour:v:31:y:2017:i:4:p:337-368 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

    unemployment insurance; welfare analysis;

    JEL classification:

    • 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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