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The Effects Of Extended Unemployment Insurance Over The Business Cycle: Evidence From Regression Discontinuity Estimates Over Twenty Years

  • Johannes F. Schmieder†

    ()

    (Department of Economics, Boston University and IZA)

  • Till von Wachter

    ()

    (Columbia University,NBER, CEPR, and IZA)

  • Stefan Bender

    ()

    (Institute for Employment Research (IAB))

One goal of extending the duration of unemployment insurance (UI) in recessions is to increase UI coverage in the face of longer unemployment spells. Although it is a common concern that such extensions may themselves raise nonemployment durations, it is not known how recessions would affect the magnitude of this moral hazard. To obtain causal estimates of the differential effects of UI in booms and recessions, this paper exploits the fact that, in Germany, potential UI benefit duration is a function of exact age which is itself invariant over the business cycle. We implement a regression discontinuity design separately for twenty years and correlate our estimates with measures of the business cycle. We find that the nonemployment effects of a month of additional UI benefits are, at best, somewhat declining in recessions. Yet, the UI exhaustion rate, and therefore the additional coverage provided by UI extensions, rises substantially during a downturn. The ratio of these two effects represents the nonemployment response of workers weighted by the probability of being affected by UI extensions. Hence, our results imply that the effective moral hazard effect of UI extensions is significantly lower in recessions than in booms. Using a model of job search with liquidity constraints, we also find that, in the absence of market-wide effects, the net social benefits from UI extensions can be expressed either directly in terms of the exhaustion rate and the nonemployment effect of UI durations, or as a declining function of our measure of effective moral hazard.

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Paper provided by Boston University - Department of Economics in its series Boston University - Department of Economics - Working Papers Series with number WP2011-063.

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Length: 51 pages
Date of creation: Jan 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:bos:wpaper:wp2011-063
Contact details of provider: Postal: 270 Bay State Road, Boston, MA 02215
Phone: 617-353-4389
Fax: 617-353-4449
Web page: http://www.bu.edu/econ/

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  1. David Card & Raj Chetty & Andrea Weber, 2007. "Cash-On-Hand and Competing Models of Intertemporal Behavior: New Evidence from the Labor Market," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 122(4), pages 1511-1560, November.
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  3. Marco Caliendo & Konstantinos Tatsiramos & Arne Uhlendorff, 2013. "Benefit Duration, Unemployment Duration And Job Match Quality: A Regression‐Discontinuity Approach," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 28(4), pages 604-627, 06.
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  6. Sanchez, Juan M., 2006. "Optimal State-Contingent Unemployment Insurance," MPRA Paper 2535, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  7. Rafael LALIVE, 2006. "How do Extended Benefits affect Unemployment Duration? A Regression Discontinuity Approach," Cahiers de Recherches Economiques du Département d'Econométrie et d'Economie politique (DEEP) 06.06, Université de Lausanne, Faculté des HEC, DEEP.
  8. Martin Browning & Thomas Crossley, . "Unemployment Insurance Benefit Levels and Consumption Changes," Canadian International Labour Network Working Papers 25, McMaster University.
  9. McCrary, Justin, 2008. "Manipulation of the running variable in the regression discontinuity design: A density test," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 142(2), pages 698-714, February.
  10. Raj Chetty, 2008. "Moral Hazard versus Liquidity and Optimal Unemployment Insurance," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 116(2), pages 173-234, 04.
  11. Camille Landais & Pascal Michaillat & Emmanuel Saez, 2010. "A Macroeconomic Theory of Optimal Unemployment Insurance," NBER Working Papers 16526, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Till von Wachter & Jae Song & Joyce Manchester, 2008. "Long-Term Earnings Losses due to Job Separation During the 1982 Recession: An Analysis Using Longitudinal Administrative Data from 1974 to 2004," Discussion Papers 0708-16, Columbia University, Department of Economics.
  13. Kiley Michael T., 2003. "How Should Unemployment Benefits Respond to the Business Cycle?," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 3(1), pages 1-22, July.
  14. David S. Lee & David Card, 2006. "Regression Discontinuity Inference with Specification Error," NBER Technical Working Papers 0322, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Arntz, Melanie & Lo, Simon M. S. & Wilke, Ralf A., 2007. "Bounds analysis of competing risks : a nonparametric evaluation of the effect of unemployment benefits on migration in Germany," FDZ Methodenreport 200704_en, Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung (IAB), Nürnberg [Institute for Employment Research, Nuremberg, Germany].
  16. Pavoni, Nicola, 2007. "On optimal unemployment compensation," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(6), pages 1612-1630, September.
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