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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
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16526
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  15. Fredriksson, Peter & Holmlund, Bertil, 1998. "Optimal Unemployment Insurance in Search Equilibrium," Working Paper Series 1998:2, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
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  17. Merz, Monika, 1995. "Search in the labor market and the real business cycle," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 36(2), pages 269-300, November.
  18. Michael T. Kiley, 2003. "How should unemployment benefits respond to the business cycle?," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2003-01, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  19. Hopenhayn, Hugo A & Nicolini, Juan Pablo, 1997. "Optimal Unemployment Insurance," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(2), pages 412-438, April.
  20. 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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