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Optimal Unemployment Insurance in an Estimated Job Search Model with Savings

  • Rasmus Lentz

    (Boston University)

This paper estimates a job search model with savings and determines optimal unemployment benefit policy for the estimated model. For observed and unobserved worker characteristics, the estimation strategy relates observed unemployment spell durations to the model implied unemployment hazard rate. The model is estimated on Danish unemployment spell data which include high quality wealth and income information. The estimation shows that Danish workers respond to changes in economic incentives in ways consistent with the model and that the magnitude of the effect of the responses on the unemployment hazard rate is small. Optimal unemployment benefit level policy is determined as a trade-off between providing insurance against consumption fluctuation and the moral hazard of reducing the worker's incentives to search back into employment. Given the estimated low level of moral hazard, the optimal benefit level is quite high even though workers can self-insure via savings. Depending on the interest rate which is effectively the cost of using savings as self-insurance, the optimal replacement rate ranges between 43% and 82%. The policy analysis emphasizes the importance of including transitional dynamics to avoid a significant downward bias associated with a simple steady state comparison analysis.

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File URL: http://www.econ.ku.dk/cam/wp0910/wp0203/2004-10.pdf/
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Paper provided by University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics. Centre for Applied Microeconometrics in its series CAM Working Papers with number 2004-10.

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Length: 36 pages
Date of creation: Mar 2003
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:kud:kuieca:2004_10
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Web page: http://www.econ.ku.dk/CAM/
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  1. Bruce D. Meyer, 1988. "Unemployment Insurance And Unemployment Spells," NBER Working Papers 2546, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. JOSEPH Gilles and WEITZENBLUM Thomas, 2001. "Unemployment Insurance and Precautionary Savings : Transitional Dynamics vs. Steady State Equilibrium," Computing in Economics and Finance 2001 96, Society for Computational Economics.
  3. Eckstein, Zvi & van den Berg, Gerard J., 2003. "Empirical Labor Search: A Survey," IZA Discussion Papers 929, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Frederiksen, Anders & Graversen, Ebbe Krogh & Smith, Nina, 2001. "Overtime work, dual job holding and taxation," Working Papers 01-7, University of Aarhus, Aarhus School of Business, Department of Economics.
  5. Acemoglu, D. & Shimer, R., 1997. "Efficient Unemployment Insurance," Working papers 97-9, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  6. Rasmus Lentz & Torben Tranæs, 2002. "Job Search and Savings: Wealth Effects and Duration Dependence," CAM Working Papers 2004-11, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics. Centre for Applied Microeconometrics, revised Nov 2003.
  7. Narayana Kocherlakota, 2010. "Figuring out the impact of hidden savings on optimal unemployment insuranc," Levine's Working Paper Archive 506439000000000291, David K. Levine.
  8. Flemming, J. S., 1978. "Aspects of optimal unemployment insurance : Search, leisure, savings and capital market imperfections," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(3), pages 403-425, December.
  9. Aiyagari, S Rao, 1994. "Uninsured Idiosyncratic Risk and Aggregate Saving," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 109(3), pages 659-84, August.
  10. Baily, Martin Neil, 1978. "Some aspects of optimal unemployment insurance," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(3), pages 379-402, December.
  11. Robert Shimer & Iván Werning, 2005. "Liquidity and insurance for the unemployed," Staff Report 366, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  12. Wang, Cheng & Williamson, Stephen D., 2002. "Moral Hazard, Optimal Unemployment Insurance and Experience Rating," Staff General Research Papers 10133, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  13. van den Berg, Gerard J, 1999. "Empirical Inference with Equilibrium Search Models of the Labour Market," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 109(456), pages F283-306, June.
  14. Heckman, James J. & Singer, Burton, 1984. "Econometric duration analysis," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 24(1-2), pages 63-132.
  15. Hansen, G.D. & Imrohoroglu, A., 1990. "The Role Of Unemployment Insurance In An Economy With Liquidity Constraints And Moral Hazard," Papers 21, California Los Angeles - Applied Econometrics.
  16. Steven Shavell & Laurence Weiss, 1978. "The Optimal Payment of Unemployment Insurance Benefits over Time," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 503, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  17. Yann Algan & Arnaud Cheron & Jean-Olivier Hairault & Francois Langot, 2003. "Wealth Effect on Labor Market Transitions," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 6(1), pages 156-178, January.
  18. Hopenhayn, Hugo A & Nicolini, Juan Pablo, 1997. "Optimal Unemployment Insurance," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(2), pages 412-38, April.
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