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What Hides Behind the German Labor Market Miracle? Unemployment Insurance Reforms and Labor Market Dynamics

Author

Listed:
  • Benjamin Hartung
  • Philip Jung
  • Moritz Kuhn

Abstract

A key question in labor market research is how the unemployment insurance system affects unemployment rates and labor market dynamics. We revisit this old question studying the German Hartz reforms. On average, lower separation rates explain 76% of declining unemployment after the reform, a fact unexplained by existing research focusing on job finding rates. The reduction in separation rates is heterogeneous, with long-term employed, high-wage workers being most affected. We causally link our empirical findings to the reduction in long-term unemployment benefits using a heterogeneous-agent labor market search model. Absent the reform, unemployment rates would be 50% higher today.

Suggested Citation

  • Benjamin Hartung & Philip Jung & Moritz Kuhn, 2018. "What Hides Behind the German Labor Market Miracle? Unemployment Insurance Reforms and Labor Market Dynamics," CESifo Working Paper Series 7379, CESifo.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_7379
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    File URL: https://www.cesifo.org/DocDL/cesifo1_wp7379.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    2. Marcus Hagedorn & Iourii Manovskii, 2008. "The Cyclical Behavior of Equilibrium Unemployment and Vacancies Revisited," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(4), pages 1692-1706, September.
    3. Murtin, Fabrice & Robin, Jean-Marc, 2018. "Labor market reforms and unemployment dynamics," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(C), pages 3-19.
    4. Michael C. Burda, 2016. "No Role for the Hartz Reforms? Demand and Supply Factors in the German Labor Market, 1993-2014," SFB 649 Discussion Papers SFB649DP2016-010, Sonderforschungsbereich 649, Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany.
    5. 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.
    6. Gabriel Chodorow-Reich & Loukas Karabarbounis, 2016. "The Limited Macroeconomic Effects of Unemployment Benefit Extensions," NBER Working Papers 22163, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Shavell, Steven & Weiss, Laurence, 1979. "The Optimal Payment of Unemployment Insurance Benefits over Time," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(6), pages 1347-1362, December.
    8. Tuit, Sander & van Ours, Jan C., 2010. "How changes in unemployment benefit duration affect the inflow into unemployment," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 109(2), pages 105-107, November.
    9. Johannes F. Schmieder & Till von Wachter, 2016. "The Effects of Unemployment Insurance Benefits: New Evidence and Interpretation," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 8(1), pages 547-581, October.
    10. Katz, Lawrence F. & Meyer, Bruce D., 1990. "The impact of the potential duration of unemployment benefits on the duration of unemployment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(1), pages 45-72, February.
    11. Baily, Martin Neil, 1978. "Some aspects of optimal unemployment insurance," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(3), pages 379-402, December.
    12. Benjamin Schoefer, 2018. "Marginal Jobs and Job Surplus: Evidence from Separations and Unemployment Insurance," 2018 Meeting Papers 1309, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    13. By Matthias S. Hertweck & Oliver Sigrist, 2015. "The ins and outs of German unemployment: a transatlantic perspective," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 67(4), pages 1078-1095.
    14. Costain, James S. & Reiter, Michael, 2008. "Business cycles, unemployment insurance, and the calibration of matching models," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 32(4), pages 1120-1155, April.
    15. van Ours, J.C. & Tuit, S., 2010. "How Changes in Unemployment Benefit Duration Affect the Inflow Into Unemployment," Discussion Paper 2010-07, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Simon Jäger & Benjamin Schoefer & Josef Zweimüller, 2018. "Marginal jobs and job surplus: a test of the efficiency of separations," ECON - Working Papers 314, Department of Economics - University of Zurich.
    2. repec:iab:iabdpa:201924 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Hilmar Schneider, 2019. "The labor market in Germany, 2000–2018," IZA World of Labor, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA), pages 379-379, December.
    4. Feld, Lars P. & Schmidt, Christoph M. & Schnabel, Isabel & Truger, Achim & Wieland, Volker, 2019. "Den Strukturwandel meistern. Jahresgutachten 2019/20," Annual Economic Reports / Jahresgutachten, German Council of Economic Experts / Sachverständigenrat zur Begutachtung der gesamtwirtschaftlichen Entwicklung, volume 127, number 201920, March.
    5. Philip Jung & Anke Hassel & Robert Habeck & Matthias Knuth & Alexander Spermann & Hans Peter Grüner & Maximilian Joseph Blömer & Clemens Fuest & Andreas Peichl, 2019. "Reformvorschläge für den Arbeitsmarkt: Ist Hartz IV noch zukunftsfähig?," ifo Schnelldienst, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 72(06), pages 03-25, March.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    unemployment insurance; labor market flows; endogenous separations;

    JEL classification:

    • E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity
    • J63 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Turnover; Vacancies; Layoffs
    • J64 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Unemployment: Models, Duration, Incidence, and Job Search

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