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The Credibility Problem in Unemployment Insurance Policy


  • Robert A. J. Dur


This paper studies the interaction between trade unions, which set wages, and a policymaker, who decides on the level of unemployment benefits and taxes. If the policymaker cannot commit to future policies, taxes and benefits are excessively high in equilibrium. Moreover, employment and output are inefficiently low. Appointing a policymaker who is more conservative than the median voter may solve the credibility problem. Alternatively, increasing wage flexibility may make the credibility problem less severe. Finally, I argue that, when evaluated behind a veil of ignorance, the credibility problem may be a blessing rather than a curse.

Suggested Citation

  • Robert A. J. Dur, 2001. "The Credibility Problem in Unemployment Insurance Policy," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 157(4), pages 634-634, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:mhr:jinste:urn:sici:0932-4569(200112)157:4_634:tcpiui_2.0.tx_2-k

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Kenneth Rogoff, 1985. "The Optimal Degree of Commitment to an Intermediate Monetary Target," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 100(4), pages 1169-1189.
    2. Barro, Robert J. & Gordon, David B., 1983. "Rules, discretion and reputation in a model of monetary policy," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(1), pages 101-121.
    3. Nickell, Stephen & Layard, Richard, 1999. "Labor market institutions and economic performance," Handbook of Labor Economics,in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 46, pages 3029-3084 Elsevier.
    4. Lawrence Summers & Jonathan Gruber & Rodrigo Vergara, 1993. "Taxation and the Structure of Labor Markets: The Case of Corporatism," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 108(2), pages 385-411.
    5. Dixit, Avinash & Londregan, John, 1995. "Redistributive Politics and Economic Efficiency," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 89(04), pages 856-866, December.
    6. Persson, Torsten & Tabellini, Guido, 1999. "Political economics and macroeconomic policy," Handbook of Macroeconomics,in: J. B. Taylor & M. Woodford (ed.), Handbook of Macroeconomics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 22, pages 1397-1482 Elsevier.
    7. Hassler, J & Rodriguez Mora, J-V, 1997. "Employment Turnover and Unemployment Insurance," Papers 623, Stockholm - International Economic Studies.
    8. Burda, Michael C., 1997. "Corporatism, labor unions and the safety net," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 41(3-5), pages 635-646, April.
    9. James M. Malcomson, 1997. "Contracts, Hold-Up, and Labor Markets," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 35(4), pages 1916-1957, December.
    10. Olivier Jean Blanchard & Stanley Fischer, 1989. "Lectures on Macroeconomics," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262022834, January.
    11. Wright, Randall, 1986. "The redistributive roles of unemployment insurance and the dynamics of voting," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(3), pages 377-399, December.
    12. Kydland, Finn E & Prescott, Edward C, 1977. "Rules Rather Than Discretion: The Inconsistency of Optimal Plans," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(3), pages 473-491, June.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D78 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Positive Analysis of Policy Formulation and Implementation
    • J51 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor-Management Relations, Trade Unions, and Collective Bargaining - - - Trade Unions: Objectives, Structure, and Effects


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