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Optimal Earnings-Related Unemployment Benefits


  • Taslimi, Mohammad

    () (Department of Economics)


Existing unemployment insurance systems in many OECD countries involve a ceiling on insurable earnings. The result is lower replacement rate for employees with relatively high earnings. This paper examines whether replacement rates should decrease as the level of earnings rises. The framework is a search equilibrium model where wages are determined by Nash bargaining between firms and workers, job search intensity is endogenous and workers are heterogeneous. The analysis suggests higher replacement rates for low-paid workers if taxes are uniform. The same result may hold when taxes are redistributive. Numerical simulations indicate that there are modest welfare gains associated with moving from an optimal uniform benefit system to an optimally differentiated one in both cases, i.e., uniform and redistributive taxation. The case for differentiation arises from the fact that it may have favourable effects on the tax base.

Suggested Citation

  • Taslimi, Mohammad, 2003. "Optimal Earnings-Related Unemployment Benefits," Working Paper Series 2003:16, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:uunewp:2003_016

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Holmlund, Bertil, 1998. " Unemployment Insurance in Theory and Practice," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 100(1), pages 113-141, March.
    2. Fredriksson, Peter & Holmlund, Bertil, 2001. "Optimal Unemployment Insurance in Search Equilibrium," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 19(2), pages 370-399, April.
    3. Christopher A. Pissarides & Barbara Petrongolo, 2001. "Looking into the Black Box: A Survey of the Matching Function," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 39(2), pages 390-431, June.
    4. 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 1347-1362, December.
    5. Layard, Richard & Nickell, Stephen & Jackman, Richard, 2005. "Unemployment: Macroeconomic Performance and the Labour Market," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199279173.
    6. Katz, Lawrence F. & Autor, David H., 1999. "Changes in the wage structure and earnings inequality," Handbook of Labor Economics,in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 26, pages 1463-1555 Elsevier.
    7. Baily, Martin Neil, 1978. "Some aspects of optimal unemployment insurance," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(3), pages 379-402, December.
    8. Freeman, Richard B., 1998. "War of the models: Which labour market institutions for the 21st century?1," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 5(1), pages 1-24, March.
    9. Aino Salomäki & Teresa Munzi, 1999. "Net Replacement Rates of the Unemployed. Comparison of various approaches," European Economy - Economic Papers 2008 - 2015 133, Directorate General Economic and Financial Affairs (DG ECFIN), European Commission.
    10. Oliver Jean Blanchard & Peter Diamond, 1989. "The Beveridge Curve," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 20(1), pages 1-76.
    11. Arthur J. Hosios, 1990. "On The Efficiency of Matching and Related Models of Search and Unemployment," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 57(2), pages 279-298.
    12. Johnson, G.E. & Layard, P.R.G., 1987. "The natural rate of unemployment: Explanation and policy," Handbook of Labor Economics,in: O. Ashenfelter & R. Layard (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 16, pages 921-999 Elsevier.
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    Cited by:

    1. Thomas Aronsson & Sören Blomquist, 2008. "Redistribution and Provision of Public Goods in an Economic Federation," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 10(1), pages 125-143, February.
    2. Sören Blomquist & Vidar Christiansen, 2008. "Taxation and Heterogeneous Preferences," FinanzArchiv: Public Finance Analysis, Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 64(2), pages 218-244, June.
    3. Larsson, Laura, 2004. "Harmonizing unemployment and sickness insurance: Why (not)?," Working Paper Series 2004:8, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.

    More about this item


    Unemployment insurance; Unemployment; Search;

    JEL classification:

    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • 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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