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Optimal unemployment benefits in the presence of informal labor markets

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  • Gonzalez-Rozada, Martin
  • Ruffo, Hernán

Abstract

We assess optimal unemployment benefit level and duration in a labor market with many informal jobs. Using administrative data from Argentina, a country with high informality, we exploit discontinuities in duration, and a reform that increases benefits. We find that increasing benefits hardly extends unemployment spells but raises re-employment wages. In contrast, extending unemployment benefits prolongs unemployment spells with no effect on re-employment wages. In a search model, we derive sufficient statistics to analyze the welfare effects of a reform that increases benefits by shortening duration. Calibrating our formula using our empirical results, we find that welfare would increase with higher benefits and shorter duration.

Suggested Citation

  • Gonzalez-Rozada, Martin & Ruffo, Hernán, 2016. "Optimal unemployment benefits in the presence of informal labor markets," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 204-227.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:labeco:v:41:y:2016:i:c:p:204-227
    DOI: 10.1016/j.labeco.2016.06.001
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    Cited by:

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    2. Juliana MESÉN VARGAS & Bruno VAN DER LINDEN, 2017. "Is there always a trade-off between insurance and incentives? The case of unemployment with subsistence constraints," LIDAM Discussion Papers IRES 2017014, Université catholique de Louvain, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES).
    3. Liepmann, Hannah & Pignatti, Clemente, 2021. "Welfare Effects of Unemployment Benefits When Informality Is High," IZA Discussion Papers 14601, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    4. Asenjo, Antonia, & Escudero, Verónica, & Liepmann, Hannah.,, 2022. "Why should we integrate income and employment support? a conceptual and empirical investigation," ILO Working Papers 995195493302676, International Labour Organization.
    5. Adriana D. Kugler, 2019. "Impacts of Labor Market Institutions and Demographic Factors on Labor Markets in Latin America," IMF Working Papers 2019/155, International Monetary Fund.
    6. Martin González-Rozada & Hernan Ruffo, 2022. "The welfare effects of unemployment insurance in Argentina. New estimates using changes in the schedule of transfers," Department of Economics Working Papers 2022_01, Universidad Torcuato Di Tella.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Unemployment insurance; Severance payments; Regression discontinuity;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C41 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods: Special Topics - - - Duration Analysis; Optimal Timing Strategies
    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs
    • 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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