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The Long-Term Effects of a Generous Income Support Program: Unemployment Insurance in New Brunswick and Maine, 1940-1991


  • Kuhn, Peter J.

    () (University of California, Santa Barbara)

  • Riddell, Chris

    () (Cornell University)


Using data spanning a half century for adjacent jurisdictions in the U.S. and Canada, we study the long-term effects of a very generous unemployment insurance (UI) program on weeks worked. We find large effects. For example, in 1990, about 6 percent of employed men in Maine's northernmost counties worked fewer than 26 weeks per year; just across the border in New Brunswick that figure was over 20 percent. According to our estimates, New Brunswick's much more generous UI system accounts for about two thirds of this differential. Even greater effects are found among women and less-educated men. We argue that our longer-run, cross-national perspective generates more substantial estimates of program effects because it captures workers' abilities to make a wider variety of adjustments to programs they expect to be permanent.

Suggested Citation

  • Kuhn, Peter J. & Riddell, Chris, 2006. "The Long-Term Effects of a Generous Income Support Program: Unemployment Insurance in New Brunswick and Maine, 1940-1991," IZA Discussion Papers 1919, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp1919

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Alberto F. Alesina & Edward L. Glaeser & Bruce Sacerdote, 2006. "Work and Leisure in the U.S. and Europe: Why So Different?," NBER Chapters,in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2005, Volume 20, pages 1-100 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Edward C. Prescott, 2004. "Why do Americans work so much more than Europeans?," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Jul, pages 2-13.
    3. Rebecca M. Blank & David E. Card, 1991. "Recent Trends in Insured and Uninsured Unemployment: Is There an Explanation?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 106(4), pages 1157-1189.
    4. David A. Green & Timothy Sargent, 1998. "Unemployment Insurance and Job Durations: Seasonal and Non-Seasonal Jobs," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 31(2), pages 247-278, May.
    5. Lemieux, Thomas & MacLeod, W. Bentley, 2000. "Supply side hysteresis: the case of the Canadian unemployment insurance system," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 78(1-2), pages 139-170, October.
    6. Krueger, Alan B. & Meyer, Bruce D., 2002. "Labor supply effects of social insurance," Handbook of Public Economics,in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 4, chapter 33, pages 2327-2392 Elsevier.
    7. Daniel S. Hamermesh, 2002. "International Labor Economics," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 20(4), pages 709-732, October.
    8. Green, David A & Riddell, W Craig, 1997. "Qualifying for Unemployment Insurance: An Empirical Analysis," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 107(440), pages 67-84, January.
    9. Patricia M. Anderson & Bruce D. Meyer, 1997. "Unemployment Insurance Takeup Rates and the After-Tax Value of Benefits," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(3), pages 913-937.
    10. George J. Borjas, 1980. "The Relationship between Wages and Weekly Hours of Work: The Role of Division Bias," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 15(3), pages 409-423.
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    Cited by:

    1. Moretti, Enrico, 2011. "Local Labor Markets," Handbook of Labor Economics, Elsevier.
    2. Colin Busby & Alexandre Laurin & David Gray, 2009. "Back to Basics: Restoring Equity and Efficiency in the EI Program - EI Reform Part II," e-briefs 84, C.D. Howe Institute.

    More about this item


    income support; Canada; unemployment insurance; labor supply;

    JEL classification:

    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply
    • J64 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Unemployment: Models, Duration, Incidence, and Job Search

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