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Borrowing Constraints, the Cost of Precautionary Saving, and Unemployment Insurance

  • Thomas F. Crossley
  • Hamish W. Low

Job losers exhibit significant heterogeneity in wealth holdings and in the marginal propensity to consume transitory income. We consider potential sources of this heterogeneity, whether (some of) the unemployed face borrowing constraints, and the implications of this heterogeneity for unemployment insurance. We show theoretically how the optimal benefit can depend significantly on borrowing constraints, and on other (non-precautionary) savings motives. We report empirical evidence that (i) a quarter of job losers cannot borrow for current consumption, (ii) this constraint is binding for a much smaller fraction, and (iii) that "excess sensitivity" is not limited to the constrained.

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Paper provided by McMaster University in its series Quantitative Studies in Economics and Population Research Reports with number 391.

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Length: 65 pages
Date of creation: Dec 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:mcm:qseprr:391
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  1. Silvio Rendón, 2002. "Job Search And Asset Accumulation Under Borrowing Constraints," Economics Working Papers we025219, Universidad Carlos III, Departamento de Economía.
  2. Browning, Martin & Crossley, Thomas F., 2001. "Unemployment insurance benefit levels and consumption changes," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 80(1), pages 1-23, April.
  3. Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas & Jonathan A. Parker, 2002. "Consumption Over the Life Cycle," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(1), pages 47-89, January.
  4. James X. Sullivan, 2008. "Borrowing During Unemployment: Unsecured Debt as a Safety Net," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 43(2), pages 383-412.
  5. Bruce D. Meyer, 1988. "Unemployment Insurance And Unemployment Spells," NBER Working Papers 2546, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Orazio P. Attanasio & Agar Brugiavini, 2003. "Social Security And Households' Saving," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 118(3), pages 1075-1119, August.
  7. Christopher D Carroll, 1990. "Buffer-Stock Saving and the Life Cycle/Permanent Income Hypothesis," Economics Working Paper Archive 371, The Johns Hopkins University,Department of Economics, revised Aug 1996.
  8. Susan E. Mayer & Christopher Jencks, 1989. "Poverty and the Distribution of Material Hardship," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 24(1), pages 88-114.
  9. Diamond, P. A. & Mirrlees, J. A., 1978. "A model of social insurance with variable retirement," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(3), pages 295-336, December.
  10. Crossley, T. & Low, H., 2012. "Job Loss, Credit Constraints and Consumption Growth," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 1223, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
  11. Raj Chetty, 2008. "Moral Hazard vs. Liquidity and Optimal Unemployment Insurance," NBER Working Papers 13967, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Gruber, Jonathan, 1997. "The Consumption Smoothing Benefits of Unemployment Insurance," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(1), pages 192-205, March.
  13. Orazio Attanasio & Susanne Rohwedder, 2001. "Pension wealth and household saving: evidence from pension reforms in the UK," IFS Working Papers W01/21, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  14. David B. Gross & Nicholas S. Souleles, 2001. "Do Liquidity Constraints and Interest Rates Matter for Consumer Behavior? Evidence from Credit Card Data," NBER Working Papers 8314, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Chetty, Raj, 2006. "A general formula for the optimal level of social insurance," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(10-11), pages 1879-1901, November.
  16. Martin Feldstein & Daniel Altman, 2007. "Unemployment Insurance Savings Accounts," NBER Chapters, in: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 21, pages 35-64 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Jonathan Gruber, 1994. "The Consumption Smoothing Benefits of Unemployment Insurance," NBER Working Papers 4750, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. 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.
  19. Hansen, Gary D & Imrohoroglu, Ayse, 1992. "The Role of Unemployment Insurance in an Economy with Liquidity Constraints and Moral Hazard," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(1), pages 118-42, February.
  20. Hans G. Bloemen & Elena G. F. Stancanelli, 2005. "Financial Wealth, Consumption Smoothing and Income Shocks Arising from Job Loss," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 72(3), pages 431-452, 08.
  21. Rasmus Lentz, 2003. "Optimal Unemployment Insurance in an Estimated Job Search Model with Savings," CAM Working Papers 2004-10, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics. Centre for Applied Microeconometrics.
  22. Susan Dynarski & Jonathan Gruber, 1997. "Can Families Smooth Variable Earnings?," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 28(1), pages 229-303.
  23. Engen, Eric M. & Gruber, Jonathan, 2001. "Unemployment insurance and precautionary saving," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(3), pages 545-579, June.
  24. Jappelli, Tullio & Pischke, Jörn-Steffen & Souleles, Nicholas, 1995. "Testing for Liquidity Constraints in Euler Equations with Complementary Data Sources," CEPR Discussion Papers 1138, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  25. Deaton, A., 1989. "Saving And Liquidity Constraints," Papers 153, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Public and International Affairs.
  26. Jonathan Gruber, 2001. "The Wealth of the unemployed," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 55(1), pages 79-94, October.
  27. repec:fth:pennfi:69 is not listed on IDEAS
  28. Manning, W. G. & Duan, N. & Rogers, W. H., 1987. "Monte Carlo evidence on the choice between sample selection and two-part models," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 35(1), pages 59-82, May.
  29. James Costain, 1997. "Unemployment insurance with endogenous search intensity and precautionary saving," Economics Working Papers 243, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  30. Samwick, Andrew A., 1998. "Discount rate heterogeneity and social security reform," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(1), pages 117-146, October.
  31. Sule Alan & Martin Browning, 2003. "Estimating Intertemporal Allocation Parameters using Simulated Residual Estimation," CAM Working Papers 2003-03, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics. Centre for Applied Microeconometrics.
  32. Jappelli, Tullio, 1990. "Who Is Credit Constrained in the U.S. Economy?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 105(1), pages 219-34, February.
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