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Universal Basic Income versus Unemployment Insurance

Listed author(s):
  • Fabre, Alice
  • Pallage, Stéphane
  • Zimmermann, Christian

    (Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis)

In this paper we compare the welfare effects of unemployment insurance (UI) with an universal basic income (UBI) system in an economy with idiosyncratic shocks to employment. Both policies provide a safety net in the face of idiosyncratic shocks. While the unemployment insurance program should do a better job at protecting the unemployed, it suffers from moral hazard and substantial monitoring costs, which may threaten its usefulness. The universal basic income, which is simpler to manage and immune to moral hazard, may represent an interesting alternative in this context. We work within a dynamic equilibrium model with savings calibrated to the United States for 1990 and 2011, and provide results that show that UI beats UBI for insurance purposes because it is better targeted towards those in need.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis in its series Working Papers with number 2014-47.

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Length: 25 pages
Date of creation: 14 Nov 2014
Handle: RePEc:fip:fedlwp:2014-047
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  1. Alan B. Krueger & Andreas Mueller, 2008. "Job Search and Unemployment Insurance: New Evidence from Time Use Data," Working Papers 1070, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  2. Hansen, G.D. & Imrohoroglu, A., 1990. "The Role Of Unemployment Insurance In An Economy With Liquidity Constraints And Moral Hazard," Papers 21, California Los Angeles - Applied Econometrics.
  3. Mueller, Andreas, 2010. "On-the-job search and wage dispersion: New evidence from time use data," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 109(2), pages 124-127, November.
  4. Pallage, Stephane & Zimmermann, Christian, 2005. "Heterogeneous labor markets and generosity towards the unemployed: an international perspective," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(1), pages 88-106, March.
  5. Pallage, Stephane & Zimmermann, Christian, 2001. "Voting on Unemployment Insurance," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 42(4), pages 903-923, November.
  6. Kydland, Finn E & Prescott, Edward C, 1982. "Time to Build and Aggregate Fluctuations," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(6), pages 1345-1370, November.
  7. Williamson, Stephen D. & Wang, Cheng, 1999. "Moral Hazard, Optimal Unemployment Insurance, and Experience Rating," Working Papers 99-03, University of Iowa, Department of Economics.
  8. Hopenhayn, H. & Nicolini, P.J., 1996. "Optimal Unemployment Insurance," RCER Working Papers 421, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).
  9. Bruno Van der Linden, 2004. "Active citizen's income, unconditional income and participation under imperfect competition: a welfare analysis," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 56(1), pages 98-117, January.
  10. James Meade., "undated". "Agathotopia," Hume Papers 16, David Hume Institute.
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