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When Might Unemployment Insurance Matter?

  • Thomas Crossley
  • Hamish Low

Unemployment insurance is more valuable when self-insurance is more diffcult. Self-insurance is more viable when the cost of borrowing and the cost of saving are low. The cost of savings depends on the timing of income and the timing of needs, as well as private and market discount rates. Heterogeneity in any of these factors translates into heterogeneity in the cost of saving and thus in the value of unemployment insurance. We develop a life-cycle model to illustrate these connections. We then provide empirical evidence on the extent of credit constraints and heterogeneity in the cost of saving among job losers. Among job losers, 25% do not have access to credit markets. Liquid assets that can be used to buffer employment shocks are lower for households with children (high needs). Among older households, those with illiquid pension wealth have less liquid wealth.

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File URL: http://socserv.mcmaster.ca/econ/rsrch/papers/archive/2004-04.pdf
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Paper provided by McMaster University in its series Department of Economics Working Papers with number 2004-04.

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Length: 49 pages
Date of creation: Apr 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:mcm:deptwp:2004-04
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  18. 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.
  19. Rasmus Lentz, 2009. "Optimal Unemployment Insurance in an Estimated Job Search Model with Savings," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 12(1), pages 37-57, January.
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  22. Engen, Eric M. & Gruber, Jonathan, 2001. "Unemployment insurance and precautionary saving," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(3), pages 545-579, June.
  23. Jonathan Skinner & Stephen P. Zeldes, 2002. "The Importance of Bequests and Life-Cycle Saving in Capital Accumulation: A New Answer," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(2), pages 274-278, May.
  24. Christian Gollier, 2004. "The Economics of Risk and Time," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262572249, June.
  25. Anderson, Patricia M & Meyer, Bruce D, 1993. "Unemployment Insurance in the United States: Layoff Incentives and Cross Subsidies," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 11(1), pages S70-95, January.
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