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Reforming the Benefit System to 'Make Work Pay': Options and Priorities in a Weak Labour Market

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  • Immervoll, Herwig

    () (World Bank)

Abstract

Policies that support the unemployed, while reducing employment barriers and benefit dependency, are of particular interest in the current economic climate. This paper examines alternative policy approaches for combining adequate income support for the jobless with incentives to keep out-of-work spells short. After summarising the main parameters of existing income support measures for the unemployed in EU and OECD countries, I review evidence on the economic relevance of work incentives and discuss their significance when labour markets are weak during and after an economic downturn. Based on the available evidence, I propose a set of policy priorities to strengthen both the "protection" and the "promotion" functions of unemployment support.

Suggested Citation

  • Immervoll, Herwig, 2012. "Reforming the Benefit System to 'Make Work Pay': Options and Priorities in a Weak Labour Market," IZA Policy Papers 50, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izapps:pp50
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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. Philip Oreopoulos & Till von Wachter & Andrew Heisz, 2006. "The Short- and Long-Term Career Effects of Graduating in a Recession: Hysteresis and Heterogeneity in the Market for College Graduates," NBER Working Papers 12159, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    5. Landais, Camille & Michaillat, Pascal & Saez, Emmanuel, 2010. "Optimal Unemployment Insurance over the Business Cycle," CEPR Discussion Papers 8132, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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    8. Petrongolo, Barbara, 2009. "The long-term effects of job search requirements: Evidence from the UK JSA reform," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(11-12), pages 1234-1253, December.
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    10. Jesse Rothstein, 2012. "The Labor Market Four Years into the Crisis: Assessing Structural Explanations," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 65(3), pages 467-500, July.
    11. Herwig Immervoll & Henrik Jacobsen Kleven & Claus Thustrup Kreiner & Emmanuel Saez, 2007. "Welfare reform in European countries: a microsimulation analysis," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 117(516), pages 1-44, January.
    12. Marco Caliendo & Konstantinos Tatsiramos & Arne Uhlendorff, 2013. "Benefit Duration, Unemployment Duration And Job Match Quality: A Regression‐Discontinuity Approach," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 28(4), pages 604-627, June.
    13. 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.
    14. Virginia Hernanz & Franck Malherbet & Michele Pellizzari, 2004. "Take-Up of Welfare Benefits in OECD Countries: A Review of the Evidence," OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers 17, OECD Publishing.
    15. Immervoll, Herwig & Pearson, Mark, 2009. "A Good Time for Making Work Pay? Taking Stock of In-Work Benefits and Related Measures across the OECD," IZA Policy Papers 3, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    16. Bargain, Olivier & Orsini, Kristian & Peichl, Andreas, 2011. "Labor Supply Elasticities in Europe and the US," IZA Discussion Papers 5820, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    17. 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.
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    Cited by:

    1. Herwig Immervoll & Stephen P. Jenkins & Sebastian Königs, 2015. "Are Recipients of Social Assistance 'Benefit Dependent'?: Concepts, Measurement and Results for Selected Countries," OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers 162, OECD Publishing.
    2. Luz Adriana Flórez, 2014. "Optimal Policy with Informal Sector and Endogenous Savings," Borradores de Economia 833, Banco de la Republica de Colombia.
    3. Sarah Marchal & Ive Marx, 2015. "Stemming the tide. What have EU countries done to support low-wage workers in an era of downward wage pressure?," ImPRovE Working Papers 15/18, Herman Deleeck Centre for Social Policy, University of Antwerp.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    unemployment benefits; income support; work incentives; activation;

    JEL classification:

    • H31 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - Household
    • H53 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Government Expenditures and Welfare Programs
    • J08 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General - - - Labor Economics Policies
    • J68 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Public Policy

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