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Optimal Unemployment Insurance: Transitional Dynamics vs. Steady State

  • Gilles Joseph

    (Universite Catholique de Louvain)

  • Thomas Weitzenblum

    (Universite Paris-Dauphine and CEPREMAP)

In this study, we ask whether the presence of precautionary savings substantially reduces the optimal replacement rate in an European economy type characterized by high unemployment benefits and moral hazard. We build a simple job search model calibrated on French data and, in line with previous studies, find that the optimality criterion based on comparisons of steady states leads to a low optimal ratio. Yet, this result ignores potential transitional costs due to the necessity for agents to increase their savings and reduce their consumption whenever the ratio is cut. We therefore build a dynamic model taking full account of the transition, and show that a reduction in benefits reduces welfare. Even though the long-run optimal replacement rate is lower than the current one, transitional costs dominate long-run gains. (Copyright: Elsevier)

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File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S1094-2025(03)00021-8
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Article provided by Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics in its journal Review of Economic Dynamics.

Volume (Year): 6 (2003)
Issue (Month): 4 (October)
Pages: 869-884

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Handle: RePEc:red:issued:v:6:y:2003:i:4:p:869-884
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  6. Holmlund, B., 1997. "Unemployment Insurance in Theory and Practice," Papers 1997-25, Uppsala - Working Paper Series.
  7. Atkinson, Anthony B & Micklewright, John, 1991. "Unemployment Compensation and Labor Market Transitions: A Critical Review," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 29(4), pages 1679-1727, December.
  8. Acemoglu, Daron & Shimer, Robert, 2000. "Productivity gains from unemployment insurance," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 44(7), pages 1195-1224, June.
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  14. Luc Arrondel, 1996. "Patrimoine des ménages : toujours le logement, mais aussi les actifs de précaution," Économie et Statistique, Programme National Persée, vol. 296(1), pages 33-62.
  15. Aiyagari, S Rao, 1994. "Uninsured Idiosyncratic Risk and Aggregate Saving," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 109(3), pages 659-84, August.
  16. Cahuc, Pierre & Lehmann, Etienne, 1999. "Should unemployment benefits decrease with unemployment spell ?," CEPREMAP Working Papers (Couverture Orange) 9916, CEPREMAP.
  17. Wang, Cheng & Williamson, Stephen D., 2002. "Moral Hazard, Optimal Unemployment Insurance and Experience Rating," Staff General Research Papers 10133, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  18. Layard, Richard & Nickell, Stephen & Jackman, Richard, 1991. "Unemployment: Macroeconomic Performance and the Labour Market," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198284345, March.
  19. Jonathan Gruber, 1994. "The Consumption Smoothing Benefits of Unemployment Insurance," NBER Working Papers 4750, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. Mark Huggett, 1995. "The one-sector growth model with idiosyncratic shocks," Discussion Paper / Institute for Empirical Macroeconomics 105, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  21. Cahuc, Pierre & Lehmann, Etienne, 2000. "Should unemployment benefits decrease with the unemployment spell?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 77(1), pages 135-153, July.
  22. Mortensen, Dale T., 1987. "Job search and labor market analysis," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & R. Layard (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 15, pages 849-919 Elsevier.
  23. James Costain, 1997. "Unemployment insurance with endogenous search intensity and precautionary saving," Economics Working Papers 243, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  24. Hopenhayn, Hugo A & Prescott, Edward C, 1992. "Stochastic Monotonicity and Stationary Distributions for Dynamic Economies," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 60(6), pages 1387-406, November.
  25. JOSEPH Gilles and WEITZENBLUM Thomas, 2001. "Unemployment Insurance and Precautionary Savings : Transitional Dynamics vs. Steady State Equilibrium," Computing in Economics and Finance 2001 96, Society for Computational Economics.
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