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Optimal Workfare with Voluntary and Involuntary Unemployment

Author

Listed:
  • Claus Thustrup Kreiner

    (Institute of Economics, University of Copenhagen)

  • Torben Tranæs

    (Rockwool Foundation Research Unit)

Abstract

This paper studies whether a benevolent government should use workfare as part of its unemployment benefit policy. We consider a population composed of employed and unemployed workers as well as individuals who do not seek employment. Job search behavior is private information implying that voluntarily unemployed individuals can claim unemployment insurance (UI) benefits intended for unemployed workers. As a consequence, pecuniary benefit schemes underinsure workers against unemployment. We show that requiring unproductive activities (workfare) in exchange for UI benefits may create a Pareto improvement by facilitating better unemployment insurance for workers, and we characterize the situations where this is the case.

Suggested Citation

  • Claus Thustrup Kreiner & Torben Tranæs, 2003. "Optimal Workfare with Voluntary and Involuntary Unemployment," EPRU Working Paper Series 03-15, Economic Policy Research Unit (EPRU), University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics, revised Aug 2004.
  • Handle: RePEc:kud:epruwp:03-15
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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.
    2. Bruce D. Meyer, 1995. "Lessons from the U.S. Unemployment Insurance Experiments," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 33(1), pages 91-131, March.
    3. Brett, Craig, 1998. "Who Should Be on Workfare? The Use of Work Requirements as Part of an Optimal Tax Mix," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 50(4), pages 607-622, October.
    4. Bertil Holmlund, 1998. "Unemployment Insurance in Theory and Practice," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 100(1), pages 113-141, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Peter Fredriksson & Bertil Holmlund, 2006. "Optimal unemployment insurance design: Time limits, monitoring, or workfare?," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 13(5), pages 565-585, September.
    2. Volker Meier, 2008. "Workfare in an efficiency wage model," Empirica, Springer;Austrian Institute for Economic Research;Austrian Economic Association, vol. 35(2), pages 165-178, April.
    3. Sean Slack & David Ulph, 2014. "Optimal Universal and Categorical Benefits with Classification Errors and Imperfect Enforcement," Discussion Paper Series, School of Economics and Finance 201411, School of Economics and Finance, University of St Andrews.
    4. Drenik, Andres & Perez-Truglia, Ricardo, 2018. "Sympathy for the diligent and the demand for workfare," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 153(C), pages 77-102.
    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. Slack, Sean & Ulph, David, 2014. "Optimal Universal and Categorical Benefits with Classification Errors and Imperfect Enforcement," 2007 Annual Meeting, July 29-August 1, 2007, Portland, Oregon TN 2015-13, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).
    7. Christian Keuschnigg & Thomas Davoine, 2010. "Flexicurity and Job Reallocation," University of St. Gallen Department of Economics working paper series 2010 2010-11, Department of Economics, University of St. Gallen.
    8. Andersen, Torben M., 2012. "Migration, Redistribution and the Universal Welfare Model," IZA Discussion Papers 6665, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    9. Jan C. van Ours, 2007. "Compulsion in active labour market programmes," National Institute Economic Review, National Institute of Economic and Social Research, vol. 202(1), pages 67-78, October.
    10. Molander, Anders & Torsvik, Gaute, 2013. "Getting People Into Work: What (If Anything) Can Justify Mandatory Activation Of Welfare Recipients?," Working Papers in Economics 03/13, University of Bergen, Department of Economics.
    11. Fallesen, Peter & Geerdsen, Lars Pico & Imai, Susumu & Tranæs, Torben, 2018. "The effect of active labor market policies on crime: Incapacitation and program effects," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 52(C), pages 263-286.
    12. Torben M. Andersen & Michael Svarer, 2014. "The Role of Workfare in Striking a Balance between Incentives and Insurance in the Labour Market," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 81(321), pages 86-116, January.
    13. Holzner, Christian & Meier, Volker & Werding, Martin, 2010. "Workfare, monitoring, and efficiency wages," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 157-168, March.
    14. Fallesen, Peter & Geerdsen, Lars Pico & Imai, Susumu & Tranæs, Torben, 2014. "The Effect of Workfare on Crime: Incapacitation and Program Effects," IZA Discussion Papers 8716, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    15. Bovenberg, A.L. & Hansen, M. & Sorensen, P.B., 2008. "Individual savings accounts for social insurance : Rationale and alternative designs," Other publications TiSEM 72e236b0-ad63-4bea-a314-6, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
    16. Marek Litzman & Martin Machay, 2016. "Legal Regulations of Production Plans: Are They Unproductive?," Acta Universitatis Agriculturae et Silviculturae Mendelianae Brunensis, Mendel University Press, vol. 64(6), pages 2039-2046.
    17. Slack, Sean & Ulph, David, 2014. "Optimal Universal and Categorical Benefits with Classification Errors and Imperfect Enforcement," SIRE Discussion Papers 2015-13, Scottish Institute for Research in Economics (SIRE).
    18. Anna Amilon, 2010. "Active Labour Market Programmes, Job Search and Job Finding in Denmark," LABOUR, CEIS, vol. 24(3), pages 279-294, September.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    unemployment insurance; workfare; Pareto optimality;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • H2 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue
    • J65 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Unemployment Insurance; Severance Pay; Plant Closings

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