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The Interaction between Research and Public Policy: The Case of Unemployment Insurance


  • Daniel S. Hamermesh


This essay examines the role of economic research in affecting the recommendations of the National Commission of Unemployment Compensation, and the likely impacts of that Commission and economists' research findings on policy. Using a questionnaire addressed to Commission members, I find that most became quite aware of the results of research on the labor- market effects of unemployment insurance, with the degree of recognition proportional to the strength of the consensus among economists on a particular result; that the members had little awareness of the identity of particular economists who had done the research; and that, though the members claimed their recommendations were influenced importantly by research, that influence is difficult to detect in the Commission's Report. Because that Report goes against the tenor of current labor- market policy, its short-run impact will likely be small; and, because the focus of interest in policy will change over time, its long-term influence may not be great. Economic research, though, is shown to have had an immediate impact in three specific cases; and its long-run effect, by conditioning the policy discussion, has been and will likely be substantial.

Suggested Citation

  • Daniel S. Hamermesh, 1981. "The Interaction between Research and Public Policy: The Case of Unemployment Insurance," NBER Working Papers 0771, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:0771
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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Feldstein, Martin S, 1976. "Temporary Layoffs in the Theory of Unemployment," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 84(5), pages 937-957, October.
    2. Alan L. Gustman, 1980. "Analyzing the Relation of Unemployment Insurance to Unemployment," NBER Working Papers 0512, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:

    1. Manning, Alan, 2005. "You can't always get what you want: the impact of the jobseeker's allowance," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 19886, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.

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