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Search and Work in Optimal Welfare Programs

  • Pavoni, Nicola
  • Setty, Ofer
  • Violante, Giovanni L

Some existing welfare programs (“work-first”) require participants to work in exchange for benefits. Others (“job search-first”) emphasize private job-search and provide assistance in finding and retaining a durable employment. This paper studies the optimal design of welfare programs when (i) the principal/government is unable to observe the agent’s effort, but can assist the agent’s job search and can mandate the agent to work, and (ii) agents’ skills depreciate during unemployment. In the optimal welfare program, assisted search is implemented between an initial spell of private search (unemployment insurance) and a final spell of pure income support where search effort is not elicited. To be effective, job-search assistance requires large reemployment subsidies. The optimal program features compulsory work activities for low levels of program’s generosity (i.e., its promised utility or available budget). The threat of mandatory work acts like a punishment that facilitates the provision of search incentives without compromising consumption smoothing too much.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 9389.

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Date of creation: Mar 2013
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:9389
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  1. Robert Shimer & Ivan Werning, 2008. "Liquidity and Insurance for the Unemployed," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(5), pages 1922-42, December.
  2. Michael P. Keane & Kenneth I. Wolpin, 1995. "The career decisions of young men," Working Papers 559, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  3. Steven Shavell & Laurence Weiss, 1978. "The Optimal Payment of Unemployment Insurance Benefits over Time," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 503, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  4. Krueger, Alan B. & Mueller, Andreas I., 2008. "Job Search and Unemployment Insurance: New Evidence from Time Use Data," IZA Discussion Papers 3667, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  5. Bruce C. Fallick, 1996. "A review of the recent empirical literature on displaced workers," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 50(1), pages 5-16, October.
  6. Christopher J. Flinn, 1986. "Econometric Analysis of CPS-Type Unemployment Data," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 21(4), pages 456-484.
  7. Ashenfelter, Orley & Ashmore, David & Deschenes, Olivier, 2005. "Do unemployment insurance recipients actively seek work? Evidence from randomized trials in four U.S. States," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 125(1-2), pages 53-75.
  8. Bruce D. Meyer, 1995. "Lessons from the U.S. Unemployment Insurance Experiments," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 33(1), pages 91-131, March.
  9. Annette Bergemann & Gerard Van Den Berg, 2006. "Active labour market policy effects for women in Europe - a survey," IFS Working Papers W06/26, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  10. Setty, Ofer, 2009. "Optimal Unemployment Insurance with Monitoring," MPRA Paper 18188, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  11. Christopher Phelan & Ennio Stacchetti, 1999. "Sequential equilibria in a Ramsey tax model," Staff Report 258, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  12. Addison, John T & Portugal, Pedro, 1989. "Job Displacement, Relative Wage Changes, and Duration of Unemployment," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 7(3), pages 281-302, July.
  13. Nicola Pavoni & G. L. Violante, 2007. "Optimal Welfare-to-Work Programs," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 74(1), pages 283-318.
  14. repec:mpr:mprres:3230 is not listed on IDEAS
  15. Jerry A. Hausman, 1980. "The effect of wages, taxes, and fixed costs on women's labor force participation," NBER Chapters, in: Econometric Studies in Public Finance, pages 161-194 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. repec:mpr:mprres:2922 is not listed on IDEAS
  17. repec:mpr:mprres:3224 is not listed on IDEAS
  18. 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, 05.
  19. Spear, Stephen E & Srivastava, Sanjay, 1987. "On Repeated Moral Hazard with Discounting," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 54(4), pages 599-617, October.
  20. Cogan, John F, 1981. "Fixed Costs and Labor Supply," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 49(4), pages 945-63, June.
  21. Eckstein, Zvi & Wolpin, Kenneth I, 1989. "Dynamic Labour Force Participation of Married Women and Endogenous Work Experience," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 56(3), pages 375-90, July.
  22. Neal, Derek, 1995. "Industry-Specific Human Capital: Evidence from Displaced Workers," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 13(4), pages 653-77, October.
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