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The Impact of the Potential Duration of Unemployment Benefits on the Duration of Unemployment

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  • Lawrence F. Katz
  • Bruce D. Meyer

Abstract

This paper uses two data sets to examine the impact of the potential duration of unemployment insurance (UI) benefits on the duration of unemployment and the time pattern of the escape rate from unemployment in the United States. The first part of the empirical work uses a large sample of household heads to examine differences in the unemployment spell distributions of UI recipients and nonrecipients. Sharp increases in the rare of escape from unemployment both through recalls and new job acceptances are apparent for UI recipients around the time when benefits are likely to lapse. The absence of such spikes in the escape rate from unemployment for nonrecipients strongly suggests that the potential duration of UI benefits affects firm recall policies and workers' willingness to start new jobs. The second part of our empirical work uses administrative data to examine the effects of the level and length of UT benefits on the escape rate from unemployment of UI recipients. The results indicate that a one week increase in potential benefit duration increases the average duration of the unemployment spells of UI recipients by 0,16 to 0.20 weeks. The estimates also imply that policies that extend the potential duration of benefits increase the mean duration of unemployment by substantially more than policies with the same predicted impact on the total UI budget that raise the level of benefits while holding potential duration constant.

Suggested Citation

  • Lawrence F. Katz & Bruce D. Meyer, 1988. "The Impact of the Potential Duration of Unemployment Benefits on the Duration of Unemployment," NBER Working Papers 2741, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:2741
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Meyer, Bruce D, 1990. "Unemployment Insurance and Unemployment Spells," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 58(4), pages 757-782, July.
    2. Kenneth Burdett & Dale T. Mortensen, 1977. "Labor Supply Under Uncertainty," Discussion Papers 297, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
    3. repec:fth:prinin:243 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Shavell, Steven & Weiss, Laurence, 1979. "The Optimal Payment of Unemployment Insurance Benefits over Time," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(6), pages 1347-1362, December.
    5. Mathiowetz, Nancy A & Duncan, Greg J, 1988. "Out of Work, Out of Mind: Response Errors in Retrospective Reports of Unemployment," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 6(2), pages 221-229, April.
    6. Rebecca M. Blank & David E. Card, 1991. "Recent Trends in Insured and Uninsured Unemployment: Is There an Explanation?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 106(4), pages 1157-1189.
    7. Christopher A. Pissarides, 1982. "Job Search and the Duration of Layoff Unemployment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 97(4), pages 595-612.
    8. Ham, John C & Rea, Samuel A, Jr, 1987. "Unemployment Insurance and Male Unemployment Duration in Canada," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 5(3), pages 325-353, July.
    9. Ehrenberg, Ronald G & Oaxaca, Ronald L, 1976. "Unemployment Insurance, Duration of Unemployment, and Subsequent Wage Gain," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 66(5), pages 754-766, December.
    10. Atkinson, A. B. & Gomulka, J. & Micklewright, J. & Rau, N., 1984. "Unemployment benefit, duration and incentives in Britain : How robust is the evidence?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(1-2), pages 3-26.
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    12. Solon, Gary R, 1985. "Work Incentive Effects of Taxing Unemployment Benefits," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 53(2), pages 295-306, March.
    13. John C. Ham & Samuel Rea, 1986. "Unemployment Insurance and Male Unemployment Duration in Canada," Working Papers 592, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
    14. Burdett, Kenneth, 1979. "Unemployment Insurance Payments as a Search Subsidy: A Theoretical Analysis," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 17(3), pages 333-343, July.
    15. Narendranathan, W & Nickell, S & Stern, J, 1985. "Unemployment Benefits Revisited," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 95(378), pages 307-329, June.
    16. Rebecca Blank & David Card & Whitney Newey, 1988. "Recent Trends in Insured and Uninsured Unemployment: Is There an Explanation?," Working Papers 623, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
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    JEL classification:

    • E00 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - General - - - General

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