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Risk-based Selection in Unemployment Insurance: Evidence and Implications

Author

Listed:
  • Camille Landais
  • Arash Nekoei
  • Peter Nilsson
  • David Seim
  • Johannes Spinnewijn

Abstract

This paper studies whether adverse selection can rationalize a universal mandate for unemployment insurance (UI). Building on a unique feature of the unemployment policy in Sweden, where workers can opt for supplemental UI coverage above a minimum mandate, we provide the first direct evidence for adverse selection in UI and derive its implications for UI design. We find that the unemployment risk is more than twice as high for workers who buy supplemental coverage, even when controlling for a rich set of observables. Exploiting variation in risk and prices to control for moral hazard, we show how this correlation is driven by substantial risk-based selection. Despite the severe adverse selection, we find that mandating the supplemental coverage is dominated by a design leaving the choice to workers. In this design, a large subsidy for supplemental coverage is optimal and complementary to the use of a minimum mandate. Our findings raise questions about the desirability of the universal mandate of generous UI in other countries, which has not been tested before.

Suggested Citation

  • Camille Landais & Arash Nekoei & Peter Nilsson & David Seim & Johannes Spinnewijn, 2017. "Risk-based Selection in Unemployment Insurance: Evidence and Implications," STICERD - Public Economics Programme Discussion Papers 33, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE.
  • Handle: RePEc:cep:stippp:33
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    File URL: http://sticerd.lse.ac.uk/dps/pep/pep33.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Liran Einav & Amy Finkelstein & Jonathan Levin, 2010. "Beyond Testing: Empirical Models of Insurance Markets," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 2(1), pages 311-336, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Jason S. Anquandah & Leonid V. Bogachev, 2019. "Optimal Stopping and Utility in a Simple Model of Unemployment Insurance," Papers 1902.06175, arXiv.org, revised Sep 2019.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Adverse Selection; Unemployment Insurance; Mandate; Subsidy;

    JEL classification:

    • H40 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - General
    • J65 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Unemployment Insurance; Severance Pay; Plant Closings

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