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Do Unemployment Benefits Increase Unemployment? New Evidence on an Old Question

Author

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  • Fredriksson, Peter

    () (Stockholm University)

  • Söderström, Martin

    () (National Institute of Economic Research - NIER)

Abstract

We examine the relationship between unemployment benefits and unemployment using Swedish regional data. To estimate the effect of an increase in unemployment insurance (UI) on unemployment we exploit the ceiling on UI benefits. The benefit ceiling, coupled with the fact that there are regional wage differentials, implies that the generosity of UI varies regionally. More importantly, the actual generosity of UI varies within region over time due to variations in the benefit ceiling. We find fairly robust evidence suggesting that the actual generosity of UI does matter for regional unemployment. Increases in the actual replacement rate contribute to higher unemployment as suggested by theory. We also show that removing the wage cap in UI benefit receipt would reduce the dispersion of regional unemployment. This result is due to the fact that low unemployment regions tend to be high wage regions where the benefit ceiling has a greater bite. Removing the benefit ceiling thus implies that the actual generosity of UI increases more in low unemployment regions.

Suggested Citation

  • Fredriksson, Peter & Söderström, Martin, 2008. "Do Unemployment Benefits Increase Unemployment? New Evidence on an Old Question," IZA Discussion Papers 3570, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp3570
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Carling, Kenneth & Holmlund, Bertil & Vejsiu, Altin, 2001. "Do Benefit Cuts Boost Job Finding? Swedish Evidence from the 1990s," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 111(474), pages 766-790, October.
    2. Holmlund, Bertil, 1998. " Unemployment Insurance in Theory and Practice," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 100(1), pages 113-141, March.
    3. Katz, Lawrence F. & Meyer, Bruce D., 1990. "The impact of the potential duration of unemployment benefits on the duration of unemployment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(1), pages 45-72, February.
    4. Lalive, Rafael & Zweimuller, Josef, 2004. "Benefit entitlement and unemployment duration: The role of policy endogeneity," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(12), pages 2587-2616, December.
    5. Peter Fredriksson & Bertil Holmlund, 2006. "Improving Incentives in Unemployment Insurance: A Review of Recent Research," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 20(3), pages 357-386, July.
    6. Card, David & Levine, Phillip B., 2000. "Extended benefits and the duration of UI spells: evidence from the New Jersey extended benefit program," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 78(1-2), pages 107-138, October.
    7. Atkinson, Anthony B & Micklewright, John, 1991. "Unemployment Compensation and Labor Market Transitions: A Critical Review," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 29(4), pages 1679-1727, December.
    8. Edin, P.-A. & Fredriksson, P., 2000. "LINDA - Longitudinal INdividual DAta for Sweden," Papers 2000:19, Uppsala - Working Paper Series.
    9. 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.
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    Cited by:

    1. Adriano Paggiaro & Enrico Rettore & Ugo Trivellato, 2008. "The Effect of Extending the Duration of Eligibility in an Italian Labour Market Programme for Dismissed Workers," CESifo Working Paper Series 2340, CESifo Group Munich.
    2. Adriano Paggiaro & Enrico Rettore & Ugo Trivellato, 2009. "The Effect of a Longer Eligibility to a Labour Market Programme for Dismissed Workers," LABOUR, CEIS, vol. 23(1), pages 37-66, March.
    3. Mitman, Kurt & Rabinovich, Stanislav, 2015. "Optimal unemployment insurance in an equilibrium business-cycle model," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 71(C), pages 99-118.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    unemployment; unemployment insurance; unemployment dispersion;

    JEL classification:

    • 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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