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

  • Blanchard, Olivier
  • Tirole, Jean

Unemployment insurance and employment protection are typically discussed and studied in isolation. ln 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.

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Paper provided by Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse in its series IDEI Working Papers with number 258.

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Date of creation: Sep 2006
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Publication status: Published in Journal of the European Economic Association, vol.�6, n°1, 2007, p.�45-77.
Handle: RePEc:ide:wpaper:1621
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  1. Gertler, M. & Gilchrist, S., 1992. "Monetary Policy, Business Cycles and the Behavior of Small Manufacturing Firms," Working Papers 92-08, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
  2. Steven Shavell & Laurence Weiss, 1978. "The Optimal Payment of Unemployment Insurance Benefits over Time," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 503, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Gary D. Hansen & Ayse Imrohoroglu, 1990. "The Role of Unemployment Insurance in an Economy with Liquidity Constraints and Moral Hazard," UCLA Economics Working Papers 583, UCLA Department of Economics.
  7. Hopenhayn, H. & Nicolini, P.J., 1996. "Optimal Unemployment Insurance," RCER Working Papers 421, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).
  8. Acemoglu, D. & Shimer, R., 1997. "Efficient Unemployment Insurance," Working papers 97-9, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  9. repec:oup:restud:v:41:y:1974:i:1:p:37-50 is not listed on IDEAS
  10. 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.
  11. Acemoglu, Daron & Shimer, Robert, 2000. "Productivity gains from unemployment insurance," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 44(7), pages 1195-1224, June.
  12. Azariadis, Costas, 1975. "Implicit Contracts and Underemployment Equilibria," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 83(6), pages 1183-1202, December.
  13. repec:oup:restud:v:47:y:1980:i:2:p:321-38 is not listed on IDEAS
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