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Does the unemployment benefit institution affect the productivity of workers? Evidence from a field experiment

  • Mariana Blanco

    ()

  • Juan Fernando Vargas

    ()

  • Patricio S. Dalton

    ()

Abstract: We investigate whether and how the type of unemployment benefi t institution a ffects productivity. We designed a eld experiment to compare workers' productivity under a welfare system, where the unemployed receive an unconditional monetary transfer, with their productivity under a workfare system, where the transfer is received conditional on the unemployed spending some time on ancillary activities. First, we find that having an unemployment benefi t institution, regardless of whether it makes transfers conditional or unconditional, increases workers' productivity. Second, we fi nd that productivity is higher under Welfare than under Workfare. Becoming unemployed under Welfare comes at the psychological cost of a drop in self-esteem, presumably due to the shame or stigma associated with receiving an unconditional unemployment benefi t. We document the empirical relevance of precisely this channel. The di fferences we observe in productivity suggest that this psychological cost acts as an extra non monetary incentive for workers under Welfare to put a higher eff ort in their work.

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File URL: http://www.urosario.edu.co/economia/documentos/pdf/dt145/
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Paper provided by UNIVERSIDAD DEL ROSARIO in its series DOCUMENTOS DE TRABAJO with number 011015.

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Length: 45
Date of creation: 04 Nov 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:col:000092:011015
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  1. Fredriksson, Peter & Holmlund, Bertil, 2003. "Improving Incentives in Unemployment Insurance: A Review of Recent Research," Working Paper Series 2003:10, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
  2. Shapiro, Carl & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1984. "Equilibrium Unemployment as a Worker Discipline Device," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(3), pages 433-44, June.
  3. Oswald, Andrew & Proto, Eugenio & Sgroi, Daniel, 2013. "Happiness and Productivity," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 108, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
  4. Oriana Bandiera & Iwan Barankay & Imran Rasul, 2007. "Incentives for Managers and Inequality Among Workers: Evidence From a Firm-Level Experiment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 122(2), pages 729-773, 05.
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  6. David Andolfatto & Steeve Mongrain & Gordon Myers, 2007. "Rational Truth-Avoidance and Self-Esteem," Discussion Papers dp07-08, Department of Economics, Simon Fraser University.
  7. Gueron, Judith M, 1990. "Work and Welfare: Lessons on Employment Programs," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 4(1), pages 79-98, Winter.
  8. Canice Prendergast, 1999. "The Provision of Incentives in Firms," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 37(1), pages 7-63, March.
  9. Oriana Bandiera & Iwan Barankay & Imran Rasul, 2005. "Social Preferences and the Response to Incentives: Evidence from Personnel Data," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 120(3), pages 917-962, August.
  10. Botond Köszegi, 2006. "Ego Utility, Overconfidence, and Task Choice," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 4(4), pages 673-707, 06.
  11. Dan A. Black & Jeffrey A. Smith & Mark C. Berger & Brett J. Noel, 2003. "Is the Threat of Reemployment Services More Effective Than the Services Themselves? Evidence from Random Assignment in the UI System," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(4), pages 1313-1327, September.
  12. Jaap H. Abbring & Gerard J. Berg & Jan C. Ours, 2005. "The Effect of Unemployment Insurance Sanctions on the Transition Rate from Unemployment to Employment," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 115(505), pages 602-630, 07.
  13. Edward Miguel & Michael Kremer, 2004. "Worms: Identifying Impacts on Education and Health in the Presence of Treatment Externalities," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 72(1), pages 159-217, 01.
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