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How Should Unemployment Insurance Vary over the Business Cycle?

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  • Serdar Birinci
  • Kurt See

Abstract

We study optimal unemployment insurance (UI) policy over the business cycle, using a heterogeneous agent job-search model with aggregate risk and incomplete markets. We validate the model-implied micro and macro labor market elasticities to changes in the generosity of UI benefits against existing estimates and we reconcile divergent empirical findings. We show that generating the observed demographic differences between UI recipients and non-recipients is critical for determining the magnitudes of these elasticities. We find that the optimal UI policy features countercyclical replacement rates with an average generosity that is close to current U.S. policy but that it adopts drastically longer payment durations reminiscent of European policies.

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  • Serdar Birinci & Kurt See, 2020. "How Should Unemployment Insurance Vary over the Business Cycle?," Staff Working Papers 20-47, Bank of Canada.
  • Handle: RePEc:bca:bocawp:20-47
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    Cited by:

    1. Serdar Birinci & Fatih Karahan & Yusuf Mercan & Kurt See, 2020. "Labor Market Policies During an Epidemic," Staff Working Papers 20-54, Bank of Canada.
    2. Sebastian Graves, 2020. "Does Unemployment Risk Affect Business Cycle Dynamics?," International Finance Discussion Papers 1298, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    3. Serdar Birinci, 2019. "Spousal Labor Supply Response to Job Displacement and Implications for Optimal Transfers," Working Papers 2019-020, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, revised Jan 2020.
    4. J. Carter Braxton & Gordon Phillips & Kyle Herkenhoff, 2018. "Can the Unemployed Borrow? Implications for Public Insurance," 2018 Meeting Papers 564, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    5. Marek Ignaszak & Philip Jung & Keith Kuester, 2020. "Federal unemployment reinsurance and local labor-market policies," ECONtribute Discussion Papers Series 040, University of Bonn and University of Cologne, Germany.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Business fluctuations and cycles; Fiscal policy; Labour markets;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
    • J65 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Unemployment Insurance; Severance Pay; Plant Closings

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