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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 Social and Economic Dimensions of an Aging Population Research Papers with number 125.

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Length: 71 pages
Date of creation: Jan 2005
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:mcm:sedapp:125
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  1. Thomas F. Crossley & Hamish W. Low, 2014. "Job Loss, Credit Constraints, and Consumption Growth," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 96(5), pages 876-884, December.
  2. repec:fth:pennfi:69 is not listed on IDEAS
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  4. Tullio Jappelli & Jörn-Steffen Pischke & Nicholas S. Souleles, 1998. "Testing For Liquidity Constraints In Euler Equations With Complementary Data Sources," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 80(2), pages 251-262, May.
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  7. Martin Browning & Thomas Crossley, 1996. "Unemployment Insurance Benefit Levels and Consumption Changes," Department of Economics Working Papers 1996-01, McMaster University.
  8. James Costain, 1997. "Unemployment insurance with endogenous search intensity and precautionary saving," Economics Working Papers 243, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  9. 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.
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  14. Meyer, Bruce D, 1990. "Unemployment Insurance and Unemployment Spells," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 58(4), pages 757-82, July.
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  19. Raj Chetty, 2005. "A General Formula for the Optimal Level of Social Insurance," NBER Working Papers 11386, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  22. Samwick, Andrew A., 1998. "Discount rate heterogeneity and social security reform," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(1), pages 117-146, October.
  23. 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.
  24. 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.
  25. 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.
  26. 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.
  27. 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.
  28. Raj Chetty, 2008. "Moral Hazard vs. Liquidity and Optimal Unemployment Insurance," NBER Working Papers 13967, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  29. Engen, Eric M. & Gruber, Jonathan, 2001. "Unemployment insurance and precautionary saving," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(3), pages 545-579, June.
  30. 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.
  31. Jonathan Gruber, 1994. "The Consumption Smoothing Benefits of Unemployment Insurance," NBER Working Papers 4750, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  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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