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The Joint Design of Unemployment Insurance and Employment Protection: A First Pass

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  • Blanchard, Olivier Jean
  • Tirole, Jean

Abstract

Unemployment insurance and employment protection are typically discussed and studied in isolation. In this paper, we argue that they are tightly linked, and we focus on their joint optimal design in a simple model, with risk-averse workers, risk-neutral firms, and random shocks to productivity. We show that, in the "first best," unemployment insurance comes with employment protection-in the form of layoff taxes; indeed, optimality requires that layoff taxes be equal to unemployment benefits. We then explore the implications of four broad categories of deviations from first best: limits on insurance, limits on layoff taxes, ex post wage bargaining, and ex ante heterogeneity of firms or workers. We show how the design must be modified in each case. Finally, we draw out the implications of our analysis for current policy debates and reform proposals, from the financing of unemployment insurance, to the respective roles of severance payments and unemployment benefits. (c) 2008 by the European Economic Association.
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Suggested Citation

  • Blanchard, Olivier Jean & Tirole, Jean, 2006. "The Joint Design of Unemployment Insurance and Employment Protection: A First Pass," IDEI Working Papers 258, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse.
  • Handle: RePEc:ide:wpaper:1621
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. George A. Akerlof & Hajime Miyazaki, 1980. "The Implicit Contract Theory of Unemployment meets the Wage Bill Argument," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 47(2), pages 321-338.
    2. Mark Gertler & Simon Gilchrist, 1994. "Monetary Policy, Business Cycles, and the Behavior of Small Manufacturing Firms," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 109(2), pages 309-340.
    3. Daron Acemoglu & Robert Shimer, 1999. "Efficient Unemployment Insurance," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(5), pages 893-928, October.
    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. Hansen, Gary D & Imrohoroglu, Ayse, 1992. "The Role of Unemployment Insurance in an Economy with Liquidity Constraints and Moral Hazard," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(1), pages 118-142, February.
    6. Acemoglu, Daron & Shimer, Robert, 2000. "Productivity gains from unemployment insurance," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 44(7), pages 1195-1224, June.
    7. Fernando Alvarez & Marcelo Veracierto, 2000. "Labor-Market Policies in an Equilibrium Search Model," NBER Chapters,in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1999, Volume 14, pages 265-316 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Olivier Blanchard & Jean Tirole, 2004. "Redesigning the Employment Protection System," De Economist, Springer, vol. 152(1), pages 1-20, March.
    9. Winkelmann, Liliana & Winkelmann, Rainer, 1998. "Why Are the Unemployed So Unhappy? Evidence from Panel Data," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 65(257), pages 1-15, February.
    10. Hopenhayn, Hugo A & Nicolini, Juan Pablo, 1997. "Optimal Unemployment Insurance," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(2), pages 412-438, April.
    11. Mark V. Pauly, 1974. "Overinsurance and Public Provision of Insurance: The Roles of Moral Hazard and Adverse Selection," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 88(1), pages 44-62.
    12. Katherine Baicker & Claudia Goldin & Lawrence F. Katz, 1998. "A Distinctive System: Origins and Impact of U.S. Unemployment Compensation," NBER Chapters,in: The Defining Moment: The Great Depression and the American Economy in the Twentieth Century, pages 227-264 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. Martin Neil Baily, 1974. "Wages and Employment under Uncertain Demand," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 41(1), pages 37-50.
    14. Azariadis, Costas, 1975. "Implicit Contracts and Underemployment Equilibria," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 83(6), pages 1183-1202, December.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D60 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - General
    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy
    • H21 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Efficiency; Optimal Taxation
    • J30 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - General
    • J32 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Nonwage Labor Costs and Benefits; Retirement Plans; Private Pensions
    • J38 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Public Policy
    • J65 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Unemployment Insurance; Severance Pay; Plant Closings

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