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Unemployment Insurance and Job Search in the Great Recession

  • Rothstein, Jesse

Nearly two years after the official end of the "Great Recession," the labor marketremains historically weak. One candidate explanation is supply-side effects driven bydramatic expansions of Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefit durations, to as many as 99 weeks. This paper investigates the effect of these UI extensions on job search and reemployment. I use the longitudinal structure of the Current Population Survey toconstruct unemployment exit hazards that vary across states, over time, and betweenindividuals with differing unemployment durations. I then use these hazards to explore a variety of comparisons intended to distinguish the effects of UI extensions from other determinants of employment outcomes. The various specifications yield quite similar results. UI extensions had significantbut small negative effects on the probability that the eligible unemployed would exitunemployment, concentrated among the long-term unemployed. The estimates implythat UI benefit extensions raised the unemployment rate in early 2011 by only about 0.1–0.5 percentage points, much less than is implied by previous analyses, with at least half of this effect attributable to reduced labor force exit among the unemployed rather than to the changes in reemployment rates that are of greater policy concern.

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Paper provided by Institute of Industrial Relations, UC Berkeley in its series Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, Working Paper Series with number qt5611t356.

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Date of creation: 16 Oct 2011
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Handle: RePEc:cdl:indrel:qt5611t356
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  1. Camille Landais & Pascal Michaillat & Emmanuel Saez, 2013. "Optimal unemployment insurance over the business cycle," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 58321, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  2. Kory Kroft & Matthew J. Notowidigdo, 2011. "Should Unemployment Insurance Vary With the Unemployment Rate? Theory and Evidence," NBER Working Papers 17173, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  7. Raj Chetty, 2008. "Erratum: Moral Hazard versus Liquidity and Optimal Unemployment Insurance," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 116(6), pages 1197-1197, December.
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  9. Daly, Mary C. & Hobijn, Bart & Valletta, Robert G., 2011. "The Recent Evolution of the Natural Rate of Unemployment," IZA Discussion Papers 5832, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  10. David Card & Raj Chetty & Andrea Weber, 2006. "Cash-on-Hand and Competing Models of Intertemporal Behavior: New Evidence from the Labor Market," NBER Working Papers 12639, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Mark Duggan & Scott A. Imberman, 2009. "Why Are the Disability Rolls Skyrocketing? The Contribution of Population Characteristics, Economic Conditions, and Program Generosity," NBER Chapters, in: Health at Older Ages: The Causes and Consequences of Declining Disability among the Elderly, pages 337-379 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Daniel Aaronson & Bhashkar Mazumder & Shani Schechter, 2010. "What is behind the rise in long-term unemployment?," Economic Perspectives, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, issue Q II, pages 28-51.
  13. Chetty, Raj, 2008. "Moral Hazard versus Liquidity and Optimal Unemployment Insurance," Scholarly Articles 9751256, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  14. David R. Howell & Bert M. Azizoglu, 2011. "Unemployment Benefits and Work Incentives: The U.S. Labor Market in the Great Recession (revised)," Working Papers wp257_revised, Political Economy Research Institute, University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
  15. Camille Landais & Pascal Michaillat & Emmanuel Saez, 2010. "A Macroeconomic Theory of Optimal Unemployment Insurance," NBER Working Papers 16526, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. David R. Howell & Bert M. Azizoglu, 2011. "Unemployment benefits and work incentives: the US labour market in the Great Recession," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 27(2), pages 221-240.
  17. Shigeru Fujita, 2010. "Economic effects of the unemployment insurance benefit," Business Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, issue Q4, pages 20-27.
  18. Abowd, John M & Zellner, Arnold, 1985. "Estimating Gross Labor-Force Flows," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 3(3), pages 254-83, June.
  19. Bhash Mazumder, 2011. "How did unemployment insurance extensions affect the unemployment rate in 2008–10?," Chicago Fed Letter, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, issue Apr.
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