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The Limited Macroeconomic Effects of Unemployment Benefit Extensions

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  • Gabriel Chodorow-Reich
  • Loukas Karabarbounis

Abstract

By how much does an extension of unemployment benefits affect macroeconomic outcomes such as unemployment? Answering this question is challenging because U.S. law extends benefits for states experiencing high unemployment. We use data revisions to decompose the variation in the duration of benefits into the part coming from actual differences in economic conditions and the part coming from measurement error in the real-time data used to determine benefit extensions. Using only the variation coming from measurement error, we find that benefit extensions have a limited influence on state-level macroeconomic outcomes. We use our estimates to quantify the effects of the increase in the duration of benefits during the Great Recession and find that they increased the unemployment rate by at most 0.3 percentage point.

Suggested Citation

  • Gabriel Chodorow-Reich & Loukas Karabarbounis, 2016. "The Limited Macroeconomic Effects of Unemployment Benefit Extensions," NBER Working Papers 22163, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:22163
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

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    3. Serdar Birinci & Kurt Gerrard See, 2018. "How Should Unemployment Insurance vary over the Business Cycle?," 2018 Meeting Papers 69, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    4. Marcus Hagedorn & Iourii Manovskii & Kurt Mitman, 2016. "Interpreting Recent Quasi-Experimental Evidence on the Effects of Unemployment Benefit Extensions," NBER Working Papers 22280, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Rothstein, J & von Wachter, T, 2016. "Social Experiments in the Labor Market," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt7957p9g6, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
    6. Taehyun Kim & Quoc H Nguyen, 2020. "The Effect of Public Spending on Private Investment," Review of Finance, European Finance Association, vol. 24(2), pages 415-451.
    7. Camille Landais & Pascal Michaillat & Emmanuel Saez, 2018. "A Macroeconomic Approach to Optimal Unemployment Insurance: Applications," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 10(2), pages 182-216, May.
    8. Jesse Rothstein & Till von Wachter, 2016. "Social Experiments in the Labor Market," NBER Working Papers 22585, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Steven Dieterle & Otávio Bartalotti & Quentin Brummet, 2020. "Revisiting the Effects of Unemployment Insurance Extensions on Unemployment: A Measurement-Error-Corrected Regression Discontinuity Approach," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 12(2), pages 84-114, May.
    10. Rothstein, Jesse & von Wachter, Till, 2016. "Social Experiments in the Labor Market," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt6605k20b, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
    11. Dieterle, Steven & Bartalotti, Otávio C. & Brummet, Quentin O., 2016. "Revisiting the Effects of Unemployment Insurance Extensions on Unemployment: A Measurement Error-Corrected RD Approach," ISU General Staff Papers 201604210700001002, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
    12. Dieterle, Steven & Bartalotti, Otávio C. & Brummet, Quentin O., 2016. "Revisiting the Effects of Unemployment Insurance Extensions on Unemployment: A Measurement Error-Corrected RD Approach," Staff General Research Papers Archive 3392, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
    13. Kim, Soojin & Rhee, Serena, 2018. "Measuring the effects of employment protection policies: Theory and evidence from the Americans with Disabilities Act," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(C), pages 116-134.
    14. Anthony A Defusco & Stephanie Johnson & John Mondragon, 2020. "Regulating Household Leverage," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 87(2), pages 914-958.
    15. Andrew C. Johnston & Alexandre Mas, 2018. "Potential Unemployment Insurance Duration and Labor Supply: The Individual and Market-Level Response to a Benefit Cut," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 126(6), pages 2480-2522.
    16. Marinescu, Ioana, 2017. "The general equilibrium impacts of unemployment insurance: Evidence from a large online job board," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 150(C), pages 14-29.
    17. Bill Dupor & Guerrero Rodrigo, 2017. "The Aggregate and Relative Economic Effects of Government Financed Health Care," Working Papers 2017-27, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
    18. Aiwei Huang, 2021. "To What Extent do Labor Market Outcomes respond to UI Extensions?," Papers 2104.12387, arXiv.org.
    19. Bellon, Aymeric & Harpedanne de Belleville, Louis-Marie & Pinardon-Touati, Noémie, 2021. "Mediating Financial Intermediation," MPRA Paper 108339, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    20. Marinescu, Ioana, 2019. "Reprint of: The general equilibrium impacts of unemployment insurance: Evidence from a large online job board," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 171(C), pages 70-85.
    21. Emi Nakamura & Jón Steinsson, 2017. "Identification in Macroeconomics," NBER Working Papers 23968, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity
    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy
    • J64 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Unemployment: Models, Duration, Incidence, and Job Search
    • J65 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Unemployment Insurance; Severance Pay; Plant Closings

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