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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. Daron Acemoglu & Robert Shimer, 1999. "Efficient Unemployment Insurance," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(5), pages 893-928, October.
  2. Hopenhayn, Hugo A & Nicolini, Juan Pablo, 1997. "Optimal Unemployment Insurance," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(2), pages 412-38, April.
  3. 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.
  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 1347-62, December.
  5. Akerlof, George A & Miyazaki, Hajime, 1980. "The Implicit Contract Theory of Unemployment Meets the Wage Bill Argument," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 47(2), pages 321-38, January.
  6. Mark Gertler & Simon Gilchrist, 1991. "Monetary Policy, Business Cycles and the Behavior of Small Manufacturing Firms," NBER Working Papers 3892, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  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. Katherine Baicker & Claudia Goldin & Lawrence F. Katz, 1997. "A Distinctive System: Origins and Impact of U.S. Unemployment Compensation," NBER Working Papers 5889, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. 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 118-42, February.
  10. Pauly, Mark V, 1974. "Overinsurance and Public Provision of Insurance: The Roles of Moral Hazard and Adverse Selection," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 88(1), pages 44-62, February.
  11. Azariadis, Costas, 1975. "Implicit Contracts and Underemployment Equilibria," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 83(6), pages 1183-1202, December.
  12. Baily, Martin Neil, 1974. "Wages and Employment under Uncertain Demand," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 41(1), pages 37-50, January.
  13. Acemoglu, Daron & Shimer, Robert, 2000. "Productivity gains from unemployment insurance," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 44(7), pages 1195-1224, June.
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