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Can the Unemployed Borrow? Implications for Public Insurance

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  • J. Carter Braxton
  • Kyle F. Herkenhoff
  • Gordon M. Phillips

Abstract

We show that unemployed individuals maintain significant access to credit. Following job loss, the unconstrained borrow, while the constrained default and delever. Both defaulters and borrowers are using credit to smooth consumption. We quantitatively show that long-term credit relationships and credit-registries allow the unemployed to partially offset income losses using credit. We estimate the model and find that the optimal provision of public insurance is unambiguously lower with greater credit access. Using a utilitarian welfare criterion, the optimal steady-state policy is to lower the replacement rate of public insurance from the current US policy of 41.2% to 38.3%. Moreover, lowering the replacement rate to 38.3% yields welfare gains to the majority of workers along the transition path.

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  • J. Carter Braxton & Kyle F. Herkenhoff & Gordon M. Phillips, 2020. "Can the Unemployed Borrow? Implications for Public Insurance," NBER Working Papers 27026, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:27026
    Note: CF IFM ME POL
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    Citations

    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Can the Unemployed Borrow? Implications for Public Insurance
      by Christian Zimmermann in NEP-DGE blog on 2018-09-28 09:37:30
    2. How Does Credit Access Affect Job-Search Outcomes and Sorting?
      by Blog Author in Liberty Street Economics on 2020-03-04 12:45:00

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    Cited by:

    1. Kyle F Herkenhoff, 2019. "The Impact of Consumer Credit Access on Unemployment," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 86(6), pages 2605-2642.
    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. Gajendran Raveendranathan & Georgios Stefanidis, 2020. "The Unprecedented Fall in U.S. Revolving Credit," Department of Economics Working Papers 2020-05, McMaster University.
    4. Kyle F. Herkenhoff & Gajendran Raveendranathan, 2019. "Who Bears the Welfare Costs of Monopoly? The Case of the Credit Card Industry," Working Papers 2019-071, Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group.
    5. Raveendranathan, Gajendran, 2020. "Revolving credit lines and targeted search," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 118(C).
    6. Rene Chalom & Benjamin Pugsley & Fatih Karahan & Kurt Mitman, 2019. "Liquidity Effects of Unemployment Insurance Benefit Extensions: Evidence from Consumer Credit Data," 2019 Meeting Papers 438, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    7. Sean Hundtofte & Arna Olafsson & Michaela Pagel, 2019. "Credit Smoothing," NBER Working Papers 26354, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Ying Feng & David Lagakos & James E. Rauch, 2018. "Unemployment and Development," NBER Working Papers 25171, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Serdar Birinci & Kurt See, 2019. "Labor Market Responses to Unemployment Insurance: The Role of Heterogeneity," Working Papers 2019-022, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, revised Mar 2021.
    10. Akos Horvath & Benjamin S. Kay & Carlo Wix, 2021. "The COVID-19 Shock and Consumer Credit: Evidence from Credit Card Data," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2021-008, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D14 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Saving; Personal Finance
    • E21 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Consumption; Saving; Wealth
    • E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity
    • G51 - Financial Economics - - Household Finance - - - Household Savings, Borrowing, Debt, and Wealth
    • J64 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Unemployment: Models, Duration, Incidence, and Job Search

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