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The Limited Macroeconomic Effects of Unemployment Benefit Extensions

Author

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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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    1. Marcus Hagedorn & Iourii Manovskii, 2008. "The Cyclical Behavior of Equilibrium Unemployment and Vacancies Revisited," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(4), pages 1692-1706, September.
    2. Henry S. Farber & Robert G. Valletta, 2015. "Do Extended Unemployment Benefits Lengthen Unemployment Spells?: Evidence from Recent Cycles in the U.S. Labor Market," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 50(4), pages 873-909.
    3. 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.
    4. repec:aea:aejpol:v:10:y:2018:i:2:p:152-81 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. 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 118-142, February.
    6. Costain, James S. & Reiter, Michael, 2008. "Business cycles, unemployment insurance, and the calibration of matching models," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 32(4), pages 1120-1155, April.
    7. Johannes F. Schmieder† & Till von Wachter & Stefan Bender, 2011. "The Effects Of Extended Unemployment Insurance Over The Business Cycle: Evidence From Regression Discontinuity Estimates Over Twenty Years," Boston University - Department of Economics - Working Papers Series WP2011-063, Boston University - Department of Economics.
    8. Steven Dieterle & Otavio Bartalotti & Quentin Brummet, 2016. "Revisiting the Effects of Unemployment Insurance Extensions on Unemployment: A Measurement Error-Corrected Regression Discontinuity Approach," ESE Discussion Papers 268, Edinburgh School of Economics, University of Edinburgh.
    9. Gabriel Chodorow-Reich & Loukas Karabarbounis, 2016. "The Cyclicality of the Opportunity Cost of Employment," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 124(6), pages 1563-1618.
    10. Johannes F. Schmieder & Till von Wachter & Stefan Bender, 2012. "The Effects of Extended Unemployment Insurance Over the Business Cycle: Evidence from Regression Discontinuity Estimates Over 20 Years," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 127(2), pages 701-752.
    11. Boone, Christopher & Dube, Arindrajit & Goodman, Lucas & Kaplan, Ethan, 2016. "Unemployment Insurance Generosity and Aggregate Employment," IZA Discussion Papers 10439, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    12. Andrew C. Johnston & Alexandre Mas, 2015. "Potential Unemployment Insurance Duration and Labor Supply: The Individual and Market-Level Response to a Benefit Cut," Working Papers 590, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
    13. Camille Landais & Pascal Michaillat & Emmanuel Saez, 2010. "A Macroeconomic Theory of Optimal Unemployment Insurance," NBER Working Papers 16526, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. 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.
    2. Serdar Birinci & Kurt Gerrard See, 2018. "How Should Unemployment Insurance vary over the Business Cycle?," 2018 Meeting Papers 69, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    3. Dupor, William D. & Rodrigo , Guerrero, 2017. "The Aggregate and Relative Economic Effects of Medicaid and Medicare Expansions," Working Papers 2017-27, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
    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. Léo Aparisi de Lannoy & Xavier Ragot, 2017. "Une (ré) assurance chômage européenne," Sciences Po publications info:hdl:2441/69i5rbio799, Sciences Po.
    6. 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.
    7. Emi Nakamura & Jón Steinsson, 2017. "Identification in Macroeconomics," NBER Working Papers 23968, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Stephanie Johnson & John Mondragon & Anthony DeFusco, 2017. "Regulating Household Leverage," 2017 Meeting Papers 327, Society for Economic Dynamics.

    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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