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A Macroeconomic Theory of Optimal Unemployment Insurance

  • Camille Landais
  • Pascal Michaillat
  • Emmanuel Saez

We develop a theory of optimal unemployment insurance (UI) that accounts for workers’ job-search behavior and firms’ hiring behavior. The optimal replacement rate of UI is the conventional Baily [1978]-Chetty [2006a] rate, which solves the trade-off between insurance and job-search incentives, plus a correction term, which is positive when UI brings the labor market tightness closer to efficiency. For instance, when tightness is inefficiently low, optimal UI is more generous than the Baily-Chetty rate if UI raises tightness and less generous if UI lowers tightness. We propose empirical criteria to determine whether tightness is inefficiently high or low and whether UI raises or lowers tightness. The theory has implications for the cyclicality of optimal UI.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 16526.

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Date of creation: Nov 2010
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16526
Note: EFG PE
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  9. Arulampalam, Wiji & Stewart, Mark B, 1995. "The Determinants of Individual Unemployment Durations in an Era of High Unemployment," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 105(429), pages 321-32, March.
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  16. Moyen, Stéphane & Stähler, Nikolai, 2009. "Unemployment insurance and the business cycle: prolong benefit entitlements in bad times?," Discussion Paper Series 1: Economic Studies 2009,30, Deutsche Bundesbank, Research Centre.
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  19. Moen, E.R., 1995. "Competitive Search Equilibrium," Memorandum 37/1995, Oslo University, Department of Economics.
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  23. Pascal Michaillat, 2012. "Do Matching Frictions Explain Unemployment? Not in Bad Times," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(4), pages 1721-50, June.
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