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Unemployment Insurance Benefit Levels and Consumption Changes

  • Martin Browning

    (Institute of Economics, University of Copenhagen)

  • Thomas Crossley

    (York University, Ontario)

We use a survey of unemployed people to examine how a job loss impacts on household expenditures. The principal focus is on the effect of the level of income replacement provided by Unemployment Insurance. We restrict attention to a sub-sample of respondents who are still in their first spell of unemployment after six months. For this group we find large consumption falls, averaging about 16% of total expenditure. The actual fall depends on a variety of factors of which the most important is the pre-job loss ratio of the respondent's income to household income. The effects of varying the replacement ratio are relatively small. We only find effects for those who did not have assets at the job loss and even for them the elasticity of total expenditure with respect to benefit is small. We conclude that for most of our sample, small changes in the benefit level will have no effect on living standards within the household and hence on other facets of behaviour such as job search, unemployment duration and the quality of any new job taken.

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Paper provided by University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics in its series Discussion Papers with number 96-11.

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Length: 32 pages
Date of creation: May 1996
Date of revision:
Publication status: Published in: Journal of Public Economics, 2001, 80(1) pp 1-23
Handle: RePEc:kud:kuiedp:9611
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  1. Hamermesh, Daniel S, 1982. "Social Insurance and Consumption: An Empirical Inquiry," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(1), pages 101-13, March.
  2. Lundberg, Shelly, 1985. "The Added Worker Effect," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 3(1), pages 11-37, January.
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  6. Martin Browning & Thomas Crossley, 1996. "Unemployment Insurance Benefit Levels and Consumption Changes," Discussion Papers 96-11, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
  7. George J. Borjas, 1987. "Self-Selection and the Earnings of Immigrants," NBER Working Papers 2248, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Blau, Francine D & Kahn, Lawrence M, 1996. "Wage Structure and Gender Earnings Differentials: An International Comparison," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 63(250), pages S29-62, Suppl..
  9. Krueger, Alan B & Summers, Lawrence H, 1988. "Efficiency Wages and the Inter-industry Wage Structure," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(2), pages 259-93, March.
  10. David Card & A. Abigail Payne, 1998. "School Finance Reform, the Distribution of School Spending, and the Distribution of SAT Scores," NBER Working Papers 6766, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Michael P. Kidd & Michael Shannon, 1996. "The Gender Wage Gap: A Comparison of Australia and Canada," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 29(s1), pages 121-25, April.
  12. Long, James E, 1980. "The Effect of Americanization on Earnings: Some Evidence for Women," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 88(3), pages 620-29, June.
  13. Christopher D. Carroll, 1996. "Buffer-Stock Saving and the Life Cycle/Permanent Income Hypothesis," NBER Working Papers 5788, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  17. Martin Browning & Mette Ejrnæs, 2009. "Consumption and Children," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 91(1), pages 93-111, February.
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  20. repec:tpr:qjecon:v:109:y:1994:i:3:p:685-99 is not listed on IDEAS
  21. 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.
  22. Robert W. Fairlie & Bruce D. Meyer, 1996. "Ethnic and Racial Self-Employment Differences and Possible Explanations," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 31(4), pages 757-793.
  23. Kell, Michael & Wright, Jane, 1990. "Benefits and the Labour Supply of Women Married to Unemployed Men," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 100(400), pages 119-26, Supplemen.
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  25. Amemiya, Takeshi, 1978. "A Note on a Random Coefficients Model," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 19(3), pages 793-96, October.
  26. Baker, Michael & Benjamin, Dwayne, 1997. "The Role of the Family in Immigrants' Labor-Market Activity: An Evaluation of Alternative Explanations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(4), pages 705-27, September.
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