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Moral Hazard and Optimal Unemployment Insurance in an Economy with Heterogeneous Skills

In this paper, we show that in a dynamic general equilibrium economy, the presence of moral hazard need not induce large cuts in optimal unemployment insurance benefits. We find that it takes a quite large proportion of "shirkers" to bend the generosity of the optimal unemployment insurance program. This result stands in sharp contrast to the extant literature. Our key assumption is that agents are heterogeneous in skills and may differ in their wage as well as in their transition in and out of unemployment. Our results have important implications in the light of recent unemployment insurance reforms. Dans cette étude, nous montrons que le risque moral joue un maigre rôle dans la détermination de l'assurance chômage optimale. Dans une économie d'équilibre général dynamique, nous trouvons que seule la présence d'un nombre très important d'abuseurs conduit à une perte significative de générosité dans les allocations d'assurance chômage. Ce résultat va à l'encontre de la littérature existante. Notre modèle s'en distingue uniquement par le fait que les agents diffèrent dans leurs habiletés, ce qui se traduit par des différences de salaires et de probabilités de chômage. Ces résultats peuvent avoir des conséquences importantes au vu des réformes récentes de l'assurance chômage.

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Paper provided by CREFE, Université du Québec à Montréal in its series Cahiers de recherche CREFE / CREFE Working Papers with number 54.

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Length: 16 pages
Date of creation: Oct 1997
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cre:crefwp:54
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  1. Acemoglu, D. & Shimer, R., 1997. "Efficient Unemployment Insurance," Working papers 97-9, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  2. Joao Gomes & Jeremy Greenwood & Sergio T. Rebelo, 2001. "Equilibrium Unemployment," RCER Working Papers 479, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).
  3. Andelfatto, D. & Gomme, P., 1995. "Unemployment Insurance, Labor Market Dynamics, and Social Welfare," Working Papers 9502, University of Waterloo, Department of Economics.
  4. Greenwood, Jeremy & Huffman, Gregory W., 1987. "A dynamic equilibrium model of inflation and unemployment," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(2), pages 203-228, March.
  5. Hansen, Gary D & Imrohoroglu, Ayse, 1992. "The Role of Unemployment Insurance in an Economy with Liquidity Constraints and Moral Hazard," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(1), pages 118-42, February.
  6. Williamson, S. & Wang, C., 1995. "Unemployment Insurance with Moral Hazard in a Dynamic Economy," Working Papers 95-09, University of Iowa, Department of Economics.
  7. Hansen, Gary D., 1985. "Indivisible labor and the business cycle," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(3), pages 309-327, November.
  8. 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 1347-62, December.
  9. Kydland, Finn E & Prescott, Edward C, 1982. "Time to Build and Aggregate Fluctuations," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(6), pages 1345-70, November.
  10. Rogerson, Richard, 1988. "Indivisible labor, lotteries and equilibrium," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(1), pages 3-16, January.
  11. Hopenhayn, Hugo A & Nicolini, Juan Pablo, 1997. "Optimal Unemployment Insurance," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(2), pages 412-38, April.
  12. Wright, Randall, 1986. "The redistributive roles of unemployment insurance and the dynamics of voting," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(3), pages 377-399, December.
  13. Jonathan Gruber, 1994. "The Consumption Smoothing Benefits of Unemployment Insurance," NBER Working Papers 4750, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Rogerson, Richard & Wright, Randall, 1988. "Involuntary unemployment in economies with efficient risk sharing," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(3), pages 501-515.
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