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Do Benefit Hikes Damage Job Finding? Evidence from Swedish Unemployment Insurance Reforms

  • Helge Bennmarker
  • Kenneth Carling
  • Bertil Holmlund

In 2001 and 2002, Sweden introduced several unemployment insurance reforms. A major innovation in the first reform was the introduction of a two-tiered benefit structure for some unemployed individuals. This system involved supplementary compensation during the first 20 weeks of unemployment. The 2002 reform retained the two-tiered benefit structure but involved also substantial benefit hikes for spells exceeding 20 weeks. This paper examines how these reforms affected transitions from unemployment to employment. We take advantage of the fact that the reforms had quasi-experimental features where the 'treatments' differed considerably among unemployed individuals. We find that the reforms had strikingly different effects on job finding among men and women. The two reforms in conjunction are estimated to have increased the expected duration of unemployment among men but to have decreased the duration of unemployment among women. The overall effect on the duration of unemployment is not statistically different from zero. However, the reforms reduced job finding among men who remained unemployed for more than 20 weeks. Copyright 2007 The Authors; Journal compilation 2007 CEIS, Fondazione Giacomo Brodolini and Blackwell Publishing Ltd..

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File URL: http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1467-9914.2006.00363.x
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Article provided by CEIS in its journal LABOUR.

Volume (Year): 21 (2007)
Issue (Month): 1 (03)
Pages: 85-120

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Handle: RePEc:bla:labour:v:21:y:2007:i:1:p:85-120
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  1. Carling, Kenneth & Holmlund, Bertil & Vejsiu, Altin, 2001. "Do Benefit Cuts Boost Job Finding? Swedish Evidence from the 1990s," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 111(474), pages 766-90, October.
  2. Fredriksson, P. & Holmlund, B., 1998. "Optimal Unemployment Insurance in Search Equilibrium," Papers 1998-2, Uppsala - Working Paper Series.
  3. Lalive, Rafael & Zweimüller, Josef, 2002. "Benefit Entitlement and Unemployment Duration: The Role of Policy Endogeneity," IZA Discussion Papers 492, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Lawrence F. Katz & Bruce D. Meyer, 1988. "The Impact of the Potential Duration of Unemployment Benefits on the Duration of Unemployment," NBER Working Papers 2741, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Card, David & Levine, Phillip B., 2000. "Extended benefits and the duration of UI spells: evidence from the New Jersey extended benefit program," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 78(1-2), pages 107-138, October.
  6. Røed, Knut & Jensen, Peter & Thoursie, Anna, 2002. "Unemployment Duration, Incentives and Institutions - A Micro-Econometric Analysis Based on Scandinavian Data," Working Paper Series 3/2002, Swedish Institute for Social Research.
  7. Hamermesh, Daniel S, 1979. "Entitlement Effects, Unemployment Insurance and Employment Decisions," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 17(3), pages 317-32, July.
  8. Hamermesh, Daniel S, 1980. "Unemployment Insurance and Labor Supply," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 21(3), pages 517-27, October.
  9. Moffitt, Robert, 1985. "Unemployment insurance and the distribution of unemployment spells," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 28(1), pages 85-101, April.
  10. Knut Roed & Tao Zhang, 2003. "Does Unemployment Compensation Affect Unemployment Duration?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 113(484), pages 190-206, January.
  11. Dale T. Mortensen, 1977. "Unemployment insurance and job search decisions," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 30(4), pages 505-517, July.
  12. Carling, Kenneth & Edin, Per-Anders & Harkman, Anders & Holmlund, Bertil, 1996. "Unemployment duration, unemployment benefits, and labor market programs in Sweden," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 59(3), pages 313-334, March.
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