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The Limited Macroeconomic Effects of Unemployment Benefit Extensions

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  • Gabriel Chodorow-Reich
  • Loukas Karabarbounis

Abstract

By how much does an extension of unemployment benefits affect macroeconomic outcomes such as unemployment? Answering this question is challenging because U.S. law extends benefits for states experiencing high unemployment. We use data revisions to decompose the variation in the duration of benefits into the part coming from actual differences in economic conditions and the part coming from measurement error in the real-time data used to determine benefit extensions. Using only the variation coming from measurement error, we find that benefit extensions have a limited influence on state-level macroeconomic outcomes. We use our estimates to quantify the effects of the increase in the duration of benefits during the Great Recession and find that they increased the unemployment rate by at most 0.3 percentage point.

Suggested Citation

  • Gabriel Chodorow-Reich & Loukas Karabarbounis, 2016. "The Limited Macroeconomic Effects of Unemployment Benefit Extensions," Working Papers 733, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, revised 12 Apr 2016.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedmwp:733
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Marcus Hagedorn & Iourii Manovskii, 2008. "The Cyclical Behavior of Equilibrium Unemployment and Vacancies Revisited," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(4), pages 1692-1706, September.
    2. Henry S. Farber & Robert G. Valletta, 2015. "Do Extended Unemployment Benefits Lengthen Unemployment Spells?: Evidence from Recent Cycles in the U.S. Labor Market," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 50(4), pages 873-909.
    3. Camille Landais & Pascal Michaillat & Emmanuel Saez, 2018. "A Macroeconomic Approach to Optimal Unemployment Insurance: Theory," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 10(2), pages 152-181, May.
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    8. Steven Dieterle & Otávio Bartalotti & Quentin Brummet, 2020. "Revisiting the Effects of Unemployment Insurance Extensions on Unemployment: A Measurement-Error-Corrected Regression Discontinuity Approach," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 12(2), pages 84-114, May.
    9. Johannes F. Schmieder† & Till von Wachter & Stefan Bender, 2011. "The Effects Of Extended Unemployment Insurance Over The Business Cycle: Evidence From Regression Discontinuity Estimates Over Twenty Years," Boston University - Department of Economics - Working Papers Series WP2011-063, Boston University - Department of Economics.
    10. Andrew C. Johnston & Alexandre Mas, 2018. "Potential Unemployment Insurance Duration and Labor Supply: The Individual and Market-Level Response to a Benefit Cut," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 126(6), pages 2480-2522.
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    14. Johannes F. Schmieder & Till von Wachter & Stefan Bender, 2012. "The Effects of Extended Unemployment Insurance Over the Business Cycle: Evidence from Regression Discontinuity Estimates Over 20 Years," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 127(2), pages 701-752.
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    Cited by:

    1. Marinescu, Ioana, 2017. "The general equilibrium impacts of unemployment insurance: Evidence from a large online job board," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 150(C), pages 14-29.
    2. Hartung, Benjamin & Jung, Philip & Kuhn, Moritz, 2018. "What Hides behind the German Labor Market Miracle? Unemployment Insurance Reforms and Labor Market Dynamics," IZA Discussion Papers 12001, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    3. Steven Dieterle & Otávio Bartalotti & Quentin Brummet, 2020. "Revisiting the Effects of Unemployment Insurance Extensions on Unemployment: A Measurement-Error-Corrected Regression Discontinuity Approach," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 12(2), pages 84-114, May.
    4. Serdar Birinci & Kurt Gerrard See, 2018. "How Should Unemployment Insurance vary over the Business Cycle?," 2018 Meeting Papers 69, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    5. Andrew C. Johnston & Alexandre Mas, 2018. "Potential Unemployment Insurance Duration and Labor Supply: The Individual and Market-Level Response to a Benefit Cut," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 126(6), pages 2480-2522.
    6. William D. Dupor & Guerrero Rodrigo, 2017. "The Aggregate and Relative Economic Effects of Government Financed Health Care," Working Papers 2017-27, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, revised 31 Oct 2019.
    7. Marcus Hagedorn & Iourii Manovskii & Kurt Mitman, 2016. "Interpreting Recent Quasi-Experimental Evidence on the Effects of Unemployment Benefit Extensions," NBER Working Papers 22280, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Dieterle, Steven & Bartalotti, Otávio C. & Brummet, Quentin O., 2016. "Revisiting the Effects of Unemployment Insurance Extensions on Unemployment: A Measurement Error-Corrected RD Approach," Staff General Research Papers Archive 3392, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
    9. Léo Aparisi de Lannoy & Xavier Ragot, 2017. "Une (ré) assurance chômage européenne," Sciences Po publications info:hdl:2441/5i0jcpu6sk9, Sciences Po.
    10. Marinescu, Ioana, 2019. "Reprint of: The general equilibrium impacts of unemployment insurance: Evidence from a large online job board," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 171(C), pages 70-85.
    11. Rothstein, Jesse & von Wachter, Till, 2016. "Social Experiments in the Labor Market," Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, Working Paper Series qt6605k20b, Institute of Industrial Relations, UC Berkeley.
    12. Emi Nakamura & Jón Steinsson, 2017. "Identification in Macroeconomics," NBER Working Papers 23968, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. Kim, Soojin & Rhee, Serena, 2018. "Measuring the effects of employment protection policies: Theory and evidence from the Americans with Disabilities Act," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(C), pages 116-134.
    14. Camille Landais & Pascal Michaillat & Emmanuel Saez, 2018. "A Macroeconomic Approach to Optimal Unemployment Insurance: Applications," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 10(2), pages 182-216, May.
    15. Anthony A Defusco & Stephanie Johnson & John Mondragon, 2020. "Regulating Household Leverage," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 87(2), pages 914-958.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Unemployment insurance; Unemployment; Measurement error;

    JEL classification:

    • J64 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Unemployment: Models, Duration, Incidence, and Job Search
    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy
    • 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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