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Optimal unemployment insurance

Listed author(s):
  • Davidson, Carl
  • Woodbury, Stephen A.

We investigate the design of an optimal Unemployment Insurance program using an equilibrium search and matching model calibrated using data from the reemployment bonus experiments and secondary sources. We examine (a) the optimal potential duration of UI benefits, (b) the optimal UI replacement rate when the potential duration of benefits is optimal, and (c) the optimal UI replacement rate when the potential duration of benefits is sub-optimal. There are three main conclusions. First, insurance considerations suggest that the potential duration of UI benefits would be unlimited under an optimal program. Hence, existing UI programs in the U.S. provide benefits for too short a period of time. Second, if the potential duration to benefits were unlimited, current replacement rates in the U.S., which are in the neighborhood of .5, would probably be about right. Third, with the potential duration of benefits limited to 26 weeks, as in most states during normal times, replacement rates of .5 are too low the optimal replacement rate is 1 if the potential duration of benefits is limited to 32 weeks or less.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Public Economics.

Volume (Year): 64 (1997)
Issue (Month): 3 (June)
Pages: 359-387

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Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:64:y:1997:i:3:p:359-387
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505578

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  1. Shavell, Steven & Weiss, Laurence, 1979. "The Optimal Payment of Unemployment Insurance Benefits over Time," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(6), pages 1347-1362, December.
  2. Layard, Richard & Nickell, Stephen & Jackman, Richard, 2005. "Unemployment: Macroeconomic Performance and the Labour Market," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199279173, April.
  3. Davidson, Carl & Woodbury, Stephen A, 1993. "The Displacement Effect of Reemployment Bonus Programs," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 11(4), pages 575-605, October.
  4. Woodbury, Stephen A & Spiegelman, Robert G, 1987. "Bonuses to Workers and Employers to Reduce Unemployment: Randomized Trials in Illinois," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(4), pages 513-530, September.
  5. Rebecca M. Blank & David E. Card, 1991. "Recent Trends in Insured and Uninsured Unemployment: Is There an Explanation?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 106(4), pages 1157-1189.
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  8. Baily, Martin Neil, 1978. "Some aspects of optimal unemployment insurance," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(3), pages 379-402, December.
  9. Stephen A. Woodbury, 2009. "Unemployment," Book chapters authored by Upjohn Institute researchers, in: Kenneth G. Dau-Schmidt & Seth D. Harris & Orley Lobel (ed.), Labor and Employment Law and Economics, volume 2, pages 480-516 W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
    • Stephen A. Woodbury, 2009. "Unemployment," Chapters, in: Labor and Employment Law and Economics, chapter 17 Edward Elgar Publishing.
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  11. Phillip B. Levine, 1993. "Spillover Effects between the Insured and Uninsured Unemployed," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 47(1), pages 73-86, October.
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  15. Rothschild, Michael & Stiglitz, Joseph E., 1970. "Increasing risk: I. A definition," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 2(3), pages 225-243, September.
  16. Carl Davidson & Stephen A. Woodbury, 1996. "Unemployment Insurance and Unemployment Implications of the Reemployment Bonus Experiments," Book chapters authored by Upjohn Institute researchers, in: Advisory Council on Unemployment Compensation: Background Papers, volume 3, pages KK1-KK37 W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
  17. Chirinko, Robert S, 1982. "An Empirical Investigation of the Returns to Job Search," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(3), pages 498-501, June.
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  19. Oliver Jean Blanchard & Peter Diamond, 1989. "The Beveridge Curve," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 20(1), pages 1-76.
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