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Social Program Substitution and Optimal Policy

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  • Nicholas Lawson

    () (Aix-Marseille University (Aix-Marseille School of Economics), CNRS & EHESS)

Abstract

A growing literature on substitution between social programs provides consistent evidence that changes in the generosity of one program can lead to changes in enrollment on other programs. However, this evidence has been ignored in welfare analyses of social insurance programs. I demonstrate that substitutions between programs can dramatically alter conclusions about optimal policy, with a particular focus on optimal unemployment insurance (UI) when there is substitution between UI and disability insurance (DI). If more generous UI reduces enrollment on DI, the result is a reduction in government spending on DI, and I show that this effect can significant increase the optimal UI replacement rate from 3% to 85%.

Suggested Citation

  • Nicholas Lawson, 2014. "Social Program Substitution and Optimal Policy," AMSE Working Papers 1417, Aix-Marseille School of Economics, Marseille, France, revised 16 May 2014.
  • Handle: RePEc:aim:wpaimx:1417
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Baily, Martin Neil, 1978. "Some aspects of optimal unemployment insurance," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(3), pages 379-402, December.
    2. Lammers, Marloes & Bloemen, Hans & Hochguertel, Stefan, 2013. "Job search requirements for older unemployed: Transitions to employment, early retirement and disability benefits," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 58(C), pages 31-57.
    3. Chetty, Raj, 2006. "A general formula for the optimal level of social insurance," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(10-11), pages 1879-1901, November.
    4. Avraham Ebenstein & Kevin Stange, 2010. "Does inconvenience explain low take-up? Evidence from unemployment insurance," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 29(1), pages 111-136.
    5. Mikhail Golosov & Aleh Tsyvinski, 2006. "Designing Optimal Disability Insurance: A Case for Asset Testing," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 114(2), pages 257-279, April.
    6. Lex Borghans & Anne C. Gielen & Erzo F. P. Luttmer, 2014. "Social Support Substitution and the Earnings Rebound: Evidence from a Regression Discontinuity in Disability Insurance Reform," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 6(4), pages 34-70, November.
    7. Robert J. LaLonde, 1995. "The Promise of Public Sector-Sponsored Training Programs," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 9(2), pages 149-168, Spring.
    8. Staubli, Stefan, 2011. "The impact of stricter criteria for disability insurance on labor force participation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(9-10), pages 1223-1235, October.
    9. Nicholas Lawson, 2013. "Fiscal Externalities and Optimal Unemployment Insurance," Working Papers halshs-00907807, HAL.
    10. Cushing, Matthew J., 2005. "Net Marginal Social Security Tax Rates Over the Life Cycle," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association;National Tax Journal, vol. 58(2), pages 227-245, June.
    11. Nicholas Lawson, 2013. "Fiscal Externalities and Optimal Unemployment Insurance," AMSE Working Papers 1357, Aix-Marseille School of Economics, Marseille, France, revised 21 Nov 2013.
    12. Gruber, Jonathan, 1997. "The Consumption Smoothing Benefits of Unemployment Insurance," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(1), pages 192-205, March.
    13. Martin Feldstein, 1985. "The Optimal Level of Social Security Benefits," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 100(2), pages 303-320.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    fiscal interactions; program substitution; optimal unemployment insurance; disability insurance;

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