IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/iza/izadps/dp6308.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Unemployment Benefits or Taxes: How Should Policy Makers Redistribute Income over the Business Cycle?

Author

Listed:
  • Ek Spector, Susanne

    (Confederation of Swedish Enterprise)

Abstract

This paper studies optimal unemployment benefit levels and optimal proportional income tax rates over the business cycle. Previous research suggests that policy makers should make unemployment insurance (UI) dependent on the business cycle because the UI system can be used to smooth consumption across different economic states. However, high benefits increase unemployment. An alternative way to redistribute income is to vary tax rates over the business cycle. In this paper, we develop an equilibrium search and matching model with risk-averse workers and two states, namely, a good and a bad state. The model yields potential ambiguity concerning the welfare effects of business cycle-dependent UI. The model is calibrated to United States (U.S.) labor market data. The numerical results suggest that higher benefits in the bad state are optimal, but the benefit differential is small. A more efficient way for policy makers to redistribute income over the business cycle is to decrease taxes in the bad state. Compared to an optimal uniform system, however, differentiation yields small welfare gains. Nevertheless, imposing two tax rates strictly dominates imposing two benefit levels. This finding is robust to a wide range of sensitivity checks.

Suggested Citation

  • Ek Spector, Susanne, 2012. "Unemployment Benefits or Taxes: How Should Policy Makers Redistribute Income over the Business Cycle?," IZA Discussion Papers 6308, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp6308
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: https://docs.iza.org/dp6308.pdf
    Download Restriction: no
    ---><---

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Landais, Camille & Michaillat, Pascal & Saez, Emmanuel, 2010. "Optimal Unemployment Insurance over the Business Cycle," CEPR Discussion Papers 8132, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    2. Kiley Michael T., 2003. "How Should Unemployment Benefits Respond to the Business Cycle?," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 3(1), pages 1-22, July.
    3. Kurt Mitman & Stanislav Rabinovich, 2011. "Pro-Cyclical Unemployment Benefits? Optimal Policy in an Equilibrium Business Cycle Model," PIER Working Paper Archive 11-010, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania.
    4. Pierre Cahuc & André Zylberberg, 2004. "Labor Economics," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 026203316x.
    5. Camille Landais & Pascal Michaillat & Emmanuel Saez, 2010. "A Macroeconomic Theory of Optimal Unemployment Insurance," NBER Working Papers 16526, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Torben M. Andersen & Michael Svarer, 2011. "State Dependent Unemployment Benefits," Journal of Risk & Insurance, The American Risk and Insurance Association, vol. 78(2), pages 325-344, June.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Pollak, Andreas, 2013. "Employment Insurance and the Business Cycle," MPRA Paper 49358, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Konstantinos Tatsiramos & Jan C. Ours, 2014. "Labor Market Effects Of Unemployment Insurance Design," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 28(2), pages 284-311, April.
    3. Kory Kroft & Matthew J. Notowidigdo, 2016. "Should Unemployment Insurance Vary with the Unemployment Rate? Theory and Evidence," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 83(3), pages 1092-1124.
    4. Philip Jung & Keith Kuester, 2015. "Optimal Labor-Market Policy in Recessions," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 7(2), pages 124-156, April.
    5. Ricardo Reis & Alisdair McKay, 2015. "Optimal Automatic Stabilizers," 2015 Meeting Papers 608, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    6. Kurt Mitman & Stanislav Rabinovich, 2011. "Pro-cyclical Unemployment Benefits? Optimal Policy in an Equilibrium Business Cycle Model," PIER Working Paper Archive 11-023, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania.
    7. Mark Strøm Kristoffersen, 2012. "Business Cycle Dependent Unemployment Benefits with Wealth Heterogeneity and Precautionary Savings," Economics Working Papers 2012-19, Department of Economics and Business Economics, Aarhus University.
    8. Pascal Michaillat & Emmanuel Saez, 2015. "Aggregate Demand, Idle Time, and Unemployment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 130(2), pages 507-569.
    9. Jesse Rothstein & Robert G. Valletta, 2017. "Scraping by: Income and Program Participation After the Loss of Extended Unemployment Benefits," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 36(4), pages 880-908, September.
    10. Lee, David & Saez, Emmanuel, 2012. "Optimal minimum wage policy in competitive labor markets," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(9-10), pages 739-749.
    11. Nakajima, Makoto, 2012. "A quantitative analysis of unemployment benefit extensions," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 59(7), pages 686-702.
    12. Andersen, Torben M. & Svarer, Michael, 2009. "Business cycle dependent unemployment insurance," Kiel Working Papers 1498, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).
    13. Kjell Erik Lommerud & Odd Rune Straume & Steinar Vagstad, 2018. "Employment Protection and Unemployment Benefits: On Technology Adoption and Job Creation in a Matching Model," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 120(3), pages 763-793, July.
    14. Thomas Piketty & Emmanuel Saez, 2012. "Optimal Labor Income Taxation," NBER Working Papers 18521, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    15. Robert Valletta, 2014. "Recent extensions of U.S. unemployment benefits: search responses in alternative labor market states," IZA Journal of Labor Policy, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 3(1), pages 1-25, December.
    16. Moyen, Stéphane & Stähler, Nikolai & Winkler, Fabian, 2019. "Optimal unemployment insurance and international risk sharing," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 115(C), pages 144-171.
    17. Mr. Tom Krebs & Mr. Martin Scheffel, 2013. "Macroeconomic Evaluation of Labor Market Reform in Germany," IMF Working Papers 2013/042, International Monetary Fund.
    18. Michaillat, Pascal, 2011. "Fiscal Multipliers Over the Business Cycle," CEPR Discussion Papers 8610, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    19. Johannes F. Schmieder† & Till von Wachter & Stefan Bender, 2011. "The Effects Of Extended Unemployment Insurance Over The Business Cycle: Evidence From Regression Discontinuity Estimates Over Twenty Years," Boston University - Department of Economics - Working Papers Series WP2011-063, Boston University - Department of Economics.
    20. Casey B. Mulligan, 2012. "Do Welfare Policies Matter for Labor Market Aggregates? Quantifying Safety Net Work Incentives since 2007," NBER Working Papers 18088, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    job search; business cycles; unemployment insurance; time-varying benefits and taxes;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
    • H24 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Personal Income and Other Nonbusiness Taxes and Subsidies
    • 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

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp6308. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/izaaade.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Holger Hinte (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/izaaade.html .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.