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Unemployment Insurance Savings Accounts in Latin America: Overview and Assessment

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  • Ferrer, Ana

    () (University of Waterloo)

  • Riddell, W. Craig

    () (University of British Columbia, Vancouver)

Abstract

The unemployment protection systems that exist in most Latin American economies are generally considered inadequate in terms of providing insurance to workers. They may also encourage stratified labor markets and impose barriers to the employee’s mobility and the firm's adjustment to changing labor market conditions. In addition, some of these systems involve high administrative and monitoring costs and may create additional adverse effects that induce higher unemployment rates and longer duration of unemployment and promote informal labor markets. Recently, research effort and policy interest has turned to Unemployment Insurance Savings Accounts (UISAs) as an alternative to traditional systems of unemployment insurance. UISAs are schemes of individual mandatory savings. Therefore, they smooth income over an individual's life cycle rather than pooling unemployment risk over the total working population at a point in time. This form of unemployment insurance diminishes the moral hazard problems associated with traditional insurance methods. However, it presents problems of its own. First, it is questionable that these systems provide adequate protection against unemployment risk. Additionally, their effects on the promotion of informal labor markets and their administrative costs are yet to be determined. Finally, the effectiveness as a form of unemployment insurance depends critically upon the performance and credibility of the financial institutions managing the funds. This paper examines the experience of Latin American countries that use UISAs, with the hope of highlighting the problems of the system and identifying areas for future theoretical and empirical work. The overall effect of UISAs depends on a vast array of specific country characteristics and program parameters. The way the system is implemented, existing labor regulation, the extent of the informal economy and the scope for collusive behavior greatly influence the success of these programs. This calls for a more extensive research effort in the area.

Suggested Citation

  • Ferrer, Ana & Riddell, W. Craig, 2011. "Unemployment Insurance Savings Accounts in Latin America: Overview and Assessment," IZA Discussion Papers 5577, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp5577
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    Cited by:

    1. Piggott, John & Sane, Renuka, 2009. "Indexing pensions," Social Protection and Labor Policy and Technical Notes 52445, The World Bank.
    2. Hartley, Gonzalo Reyes & van Ours, Jan C. & Vodopivec, Milan, 2011. "Incentive effects of unemployment insurance savings accounts: Evidence from Chile," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(6), pages 798-809.
    3. Holzmann, Robert, 2010. "Bringing Financial Literacy and Education to Low and Middle Income Countries: The Need to Review, Adjust, and Extend Current Wisdom," IZA Discussion Papers 5114, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    4. James, Estelle, 2009. "Rethinking survivor benefits," Social Protection and Labor Policy and Technical Notes 52919, The World Bank.
    5. Milan Vodopivec, 2013. "Introducing unemployment insurance to developing countries," IZA Journal of Labor Policy, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 2(1), pages 1-23, December.
    6. Goerke, Laszlo, 2007. "Unemployment Insurance Savings Accounts and Collective Wage Determination," IZA Discussion Papers 3141, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    7. Holzmann, Robert & Pouget, Yann & Vodopivec, Milan & Weber, Michael, 2011. "Severance pay programs around the world : history, rationale, status, and reforms," Social Protection and Labor Policy and Technical Notes 62726, The World Bank.
    8. Alvaro Forteza & Irene Mussio, 2012. "Assessing Redistribution in the Uruguayan Social Security System," Journal of Income Distribution, Journal of Income Distribution, vol. 21(1), pages 65-87, March.
    9. Koettl, Johannes, 2009. "Human trafficking, modern day slavery, and economic exploitation," Social Protection and Labor Policy and Technical Notes 49802, The World Bank.
    10. Margaret Grosh & Maurizio Bussolo & Samuel Freije, 2014. "Understanding the Poverty Impact of the Global Financial Crisis in Latin America and the Caribbean," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 18727, June.
    11. Tesliuc, Cornelia & Silverio Marques, Jose & Mookodi, Lillian & Braithwaite, Jeanine & Sharma, Siddarth & Ntseane, Dolly, 2013. "Botswana social protection," Social Protection and Labor Policy and Technical Notes 89003, The World Bank.
    12. Nagler, Paula, 2015. "The impact of unemployment insurance savings accounts on subsequent employment quality," MERIT Working Papers 026, United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
    13. Woo, Kye Lee, 2009. "Productivity increases in SMEs : with special emphasis on in-service training of workers in Korea," Social Protection and Labor Policy and Technical Notes 51251, The World Bank.
    14. Woolford, Geoff, 2009. "Social protection for migrants from the Pacific Islands in Australia and New Zealand," Social Protection and Labor Policy and Technical Notes 49174, The World Bank.
    15. repec:ilo:ilowps:466651 is not listed on IDEAS
    16. Verónica Alaimo & Mariano Bosch & David S. Kaplan & Carmen Pagés & Laura Ripani, 2015. "Jobs for Growth," IDB Publications (Books), Inter-American Development Bank, number 90977, February.
    17. Chae, ChangKyun & Chung, Jaeho, 2009. "Pre-employment vocational education and training in Korea," Social Protection and Labor Policy and Technical Notes 52186, The World Bank.
    18. Makhema, Mpho, 2009. "Social protection for refugees and asylum seekers in the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC)," Social Protection and Labor Policy and Technical Notes 49168, The World Bank.
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    21. Ra, Young-Sun & Shim, Kyung Woo, 2009. "The Korean case study : past experience and new trends in training policies," Social Protection and Labor Policy and Technical Notes 53696, The World Bank.
    22. Alvaro Forteza, 2011. "Assessing Redistribution within Social Insurance Systems.The cases of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico and Uruguay," Documentos de Trabajo (working papers) 1311, Department of Economics - dECON.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    unemployment insurance; moral hazard; severance pay; Latin America; labor markets;

    JEL classification:

    • J65 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Unemployment Insurance; Severance Pay; Plant Closings
    • J08 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General - - - Labor Economics Policies

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