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Optimal Unemployment Insurance

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  • Hopenhayn, Hugo A
  • Nicolini, Juan Pablo

Abstract

This paper considers the design of an optimal unemployment insurance system. The problem is modeled as a repeated principal-agent problem involving a risk-averse agent--the unemployed worker--and a risk-neutral principal, which cannot montor the agent's search effort. The optimal long-term contract involves a replacement ratio that decreases throughout the unemployment spell and a wage tax after reemployment that, under some mild regularity conditions, increases with the lenght of the unemployment spell. Some numerical results suggest that the gains from switching to this optimal unemployment insurance scheme could be quite large. The performance of this optimal contract is also compared to alternative liquidity provision mechanisms. Copyright 1997 by the University of Chicago.

Suggested Citation

  • Hopenhayn, Hugo A & Nicolini, Juan Pablo, 1997. "Optimal Unemployment Insurance," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(2), pages 412-438, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jpolec:v:105:y:1997:i:2:p:412-38
    DOI: 10.1086/262078
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Fudenberg, Drew & Holmstrom, Bengt & Milgrom, Paul, 1990. "Short-term contracts and long-term agency relationships," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 51(1), pages 1-31, June.
    2. Meyer, Bruce D, 1990. "Unemployment Insurance and Unemployment Spells," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 58(4), pages 757-782, July.
    3. Christopher Phelan & Robert M. Townsend, 1991. "Computing Multi-Period, Information-Constrained Optima," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 58(5), pages 853-881.
    4. 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.
    5. Wang, Cheng & Williamson, Stephen, 1996. "Unemployment insurance with moral hazard in a dynamic economy," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 44(1), pages 1-41, June.
    6. Stephen E. Spear & Sanjay Srivastava, 1987. "On Repeated Moral Hazard with Discounting," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 54(4), pages 599-617.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J60 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - General
    • J65 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Unemployment Insurance; Severance Pay; Plant Closings

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