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Cash-on-Hand and the Duration of Job Search: Quasi-Experimental Evidence from Norway


  • Christoph Basten
  • Andreas Fagereng
  • Kjetil Telle


We identify the causal effect of lump-sum severance payments on nonemployment duration in Norway by exploiting a discontinuity in eligibility at age 50. We find that a severance payment worth 1.2 months’ earnings at the median lowers the fraction re-employed after a year by seven percentage points. Data on household wealth enable us to verify that the effect is decreasing in prior wealth, which favors an interpretation as liquidity constraints over the alternative of mental accounting. Finding liquidity constraints in Norway, despite its equitable wealth distribution and generous welfare state, means they are likely to exist also in other countries.

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  • Christoph Basten & Andreas Fagereng & Kjetil Telle, 2012. "Cash-on-Hand and the Duration of Job Search: Quasi-Experimental Evidence from Norway," Economics Working Papers ECO2012/21, European University Institute.
  • Handle: RePEc:eui:euiwps:eco2012/21

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. David S. Lee & Thomas Lemieux, 2010. "Regression Discontinuity Designs in Economics," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 48(2), pages 281-355, June.
    2. David Card & Raj Chetty & Andrea Weber, 2007. "Cash-on-Hand and Competing Models of Intertemporal Behavior: New Evidence from the Labor Market," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 122(4), pages 1511-1560.
    3. Christoph Basten & Andreas Fagereng & Kjetil Telle, 2016. "Saving and Portfolio Allocation Before and After Job Loss," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 48(2-3), pages 293-324, March.
    4. Raj Chetty, 2008. "Moral Hazard versus Liquidity and Optimal Unemployment Insurance," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 116(2), pages 173-234, April.
    5. Guido Imbens & Karthik Kalyanaraman, 2012. "Optimal Bandwidth Choice for the Regression Discontinuity Estimator," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 79(3), pages 933-959.
    6. Shefrin, Hersh M & Thaler, Richard H, 1988. "The Behavioral Life-Cycle Hypothesis," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 26(4), pages 609-643, October.
    7. Bratsberg, Bernt & Fevang, Elisabeth & Røed, Knut, 2010. "Disability in the Welfare State: An Unemployment Problem in Disguise?," IZA Discussion Papers 4897, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    8. Raj Chetty, 2008. "Moral Hazard versus Liquidity and Optimal Unemployment Insurance," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 116(2), pages 173-234, April.
    9. McCrary, Justin, 2008. "Manipulation of the running variable in the regression discontinuity design: A density test," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 142(2), pages 698-714, February.
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    Cited by:

    1. Arna Vardardottir & Michaela Pagel, 2016. "The Liquid Hand-to-Mouth: Evidence from a Personal Finance Management Software," 2016 Meeting Papers 789, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    2. Konstantinos Tatsiramos & Jan C. Ours, 2014. "Labor Market Effects Of Unemployment Insurance Design," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 28(2), pages 284-311, April.
    3. Mesén Vargas, Juliana & Van der Linden, Bruno, 2017. "Is There Always a Trade-off between Insurance and Incentives? The Case of Unemployment with Subsistence Constraints," IZA Discussion Papers 11034, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    4. Basten, Christoph & Koch, Catherine, 2015. "The causal effect of house prices on mortgage demand and mortgage supply: Evidence from Switzerland," Journal of Housing Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(C), pages 1-22.

    More about this item


    Unemployment; Optimal Unemployment Insurance; Liquidity Constraints; Mental Accounting; Severance Pay; Regression Discontinuity Design;

    JEL classification:

    • C41 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods: Special Topics - - - Duration Analysis; Optimal Timing Strategies
    • E21 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Consumption; Saving; Wealth
    • E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity
    • J65 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Unemployment Insurance; Severance Pay; Plant Closings

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