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How Should Unemployment Insurance Vary over the Business Cycle?

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  • Serdar Birinci
  • Kurt See

Abstract

We study optimal unemployment insurance (UI) over the business cycle using a heterogeneous agent job search model with aggregate risk and incomplete markets. We validate the model-implied micro and macro labor market elasticities to changes in UI generosity against existing estimates, and provide an explanation for divergent empirical findings. We show that generating the observed demographic differences between UI recipients and non-recipients is critical in determining the magnitudes of these elasticities. We find that the optimal policy features countercyclical replacement rates with average generosity close to current U.S. policy but adopts longer payment durations reminiscent of European policies.

Suggested Citation

  • Serdar Birinci & Kurt See, 2019. "How Should Unemployment Insurance Vary over the Business Cycle?," Working Papers 2019-022, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, revised 18 Feb 2020.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedlwp:87403
    DOI: 10.20955/wp.2019.022
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    Cited by:

    1. Ignaszak, Marek & Jung, Philip & Kuester, Keith, 2020. "Federal unemployment reinsurance and local labor-market policies," CEPR Discussion Papers 15465, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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    3. J. Carter Braxton & Gordon Phillips & Kyle Herkenhoff, 2018. "Can the Unemployed Borrow? Implications for Public Insurance," 2018 Meeting Papers 564, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    4. Serdar Birinci, 2019. "Spousal Labor Supply Response to Job Displacement and Implications for Optimal Transfers," Working Papers 2019-020, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, revised Jan 2020.
    5. Sebastian Graves, 2020. "Does Unemployment Risk Affect Business Cycle Dynamics?," International Finance Discussion Papers 1298, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Business Cycles; Unemployment Insurance; Job Search;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity
    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
    • J64 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Unemployment: Models, Duration, Incidence, and Job Search
    • J65 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Unemployment Insurance; Severance Pay; Plant Closings

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