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The Optimal Timing of UI Benefits: Theory and Evidence from Sweden

Author

Listed:
  • Jonas Kolsrud
  • Camille Landais
  • Peter Nilsson
  • Johannes Spinnewijn

Abstract

This paper provides a simple, yet general framework to analyze the optimal time profile of benefits during the unemployment spell. We derive simple sufficient-statistics formulae capturing the insurance value and incentive costs of unemployment benefits paid at different times during the unemployment spell. Our general approach allows to revisit and evaluate in a transparent way the separate arguments for inclining or declining profiles put forward in the theoretical literature. We then estimate our sufficient statistics using administrative data on unemployment, income and wealth in Sweden. First, we exploit duration-dependent kinks in the replacement rate and find that the moral hazard cost of benefits is larger when paid earlier in the spell. Second, we find that the drop in consumption determining the insurance value of benefits is large from the start of the spell, but further increases throughout the spell. On average, savings and credit play a limited role in smoothing consumption. Our evidence therefore indicates that the recent change from a flat to a declining benefit profile in Sweden has decreased welfare. In fact, the local welfare gains push towards an increasing rather than decreasing benefit profile over the spell.

Suggested Citation

  • Jonas Kolsrud & Camille Landais & Peter Nilsson & Johannes Spinnewijn, 2015. "The Optimal Timing of UI Benefits: Theory and Evidence from Sweden," CEP Discussion Papers dp1361, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  • Handle: RePEc:cep:cepdps:dp1361
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Landais, Camille & Michaillat, Pascal & Saez, Emmanuel, 2010. "Optimal Unemployment Insurance over the Business Cycle," CEPR Discussion Papers 8132, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    2. 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.
    3. Andreas Ravndal Kostøl & Magne Mogstad, 2015. "Earnings, Disposable Income, and Consumption of Allowed and Rejected Disability Insurance Applicants," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(5), pages 137-141, May.
    4. Jesse Rothstein, 2011. "Unemployment Insurance and Job Search in the Great Recession," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 42(2 (Fall)), pages 143-213.
    5. Nicola Pavoni, 2009. "Optimal Unemployment Insurance, With Human Capital Depreciation, And Duration Dependence," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 50(2), pages 323-362, May.
    6. Ralph Koijen & Stijn Van Nieuwerburgh & Roine Vestman, 2014. "Judging the Quality of Survey Data by Comparison with "Truth" as Measured by Administrative Records: Evidence From Sweden," NBER Chapters,in: Improving the Measurement of Consumer Expenditures, pages 308-346 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Ganong, Peter & Jäger, Simon, 2014. "A Permutation Test and Estimation Alternatives for the Regression Kink Design," IZA Discussion Papers 8282, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    8. 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.
    9. Johannes F. Schmieder & Till von Wachter & Stefan Bender, 2012. "The Effects of Extended Unemployment Insurance Over the Business Cycle: Evidence from Regression Discontinuity Estimates Over 20 Years," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 127(2), pages 701-752.
    10. Andrew C. Johnston & Alexandre Mas, 2018. "Potential Unemployment Insurance Duration and Labor Supply: The Individual and Market-Level Response to a Benefit Cut," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 126(6), pages 2480-2522.
    11. repec:hrv:faseco:34222894 is not listed on IDEAS
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Kolsrud, Jonas & Landais, Camille & Spinnewijn, Johannes, 2017. "Studying Consumption Patterns using Registry Data: Lessons From Swedish Administrative Data," CEPR Discussion Papers 12402, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    2. Philippe Aghion & Ufuk Akcigit & Matthieu Lequien & Stefanie Stantcheva, 2017. "Tax Simplicity and Heterogeneous Learning," NBER Working Papers 24049, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Kyle Herkenhoff & Gordon Phillips & Ethan Cohen-Cole, 2016. "How Credit Constraints Impact Job Finding Rates, Sorting & Aggregate Output," Working Papers 16-25, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
    4. Attila Lindner & Balazs Reizer, 2016. "Frontloading the Unemployment Benefit: An Empirical Assessment," IEHAS Discussion Papers 1627, Institute of Economics, Centre for Economic and Regional Studies, Hungarian Academy of Sciences.
    5. Marloes Graaf-Zijl & Albert Horst & Daniel Vuuren & Hugo Erken & Rob Luginbuhl, 2015. "Long-Term Unemployment and the Great Recession in the Netherlands: Economic Mechanisms and Policy Implications," De Economist, Springer, vol. 163(4), pages 415-434, December.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Unemployment; dynamic policy; sufficient statistics; consumption smoothing;

    JEL classification:

    • H20 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - General
    • J64 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Unemployment: Models, Duration, Incidence, and Job Search

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