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Unemployment Insurance Taxes and the Cyclical and Seasonal Properties of Unemployment

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  • David Card
  • Phillip B. Levine

Abstract

We combine Current Population Survey microdata for 1979-1987 with a newly assembled database of tax rates for the Unemployment Insurance system to measure the effects of imperfect experience-rating on temporary layoffs and other types of unemployment. We find a strong negative association between the degree of experience-rating and the rate of temporary layoff unemployment, with the largest effect in recessionary years and the smallest effect in expansionary years. Increases in the degree of experience-rating are also associated with dampened seasonal fluctuations in temporary layoffs, particularly in construction and durable manufacturing. The correlation between the degree of experience-rating and the unemployment rate of permanent job losers is smaller but also negative, whereas the correlation with the unemployment Me of job quitters and re-entrants is negligible. Attempts to control for the endogeneity of unemployment insurance taxes are consistent with a causal interpretation of our findings.

Suggested Citation

  • David Card & Phillip B. Levine, 1992. "Unemployment Insurance Taxes and the Cyclical and Seasonal Properties of Unemployment," NBER Working Papers 4030, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:4030
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    1. Bertola, Giuseppe, 1990. "Job security, employment and wages," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 34(4), pages 851-879, June.
    2. Burdett, Kenneth & Wright, Randall, 1989. "Unemployment Insurance and Short-Time Compensation: The Effects on Layoffs, Hours per Worker, and Wages," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(6), pages 1479-1496, December.
    3. Angrist, J.D., 1991. "Linear Instrumental Variables Estimation Of Average Treatment Effects In Nonlinear Models," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1542, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
    4. Topel, Robert H, 1984. "Experience Rating of Unemployment Insurance and the Incidence of Unemployment," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 27(1), pages 61-90, April.
    5. Brown, Eleanor P, 1986. "Unemployment Insurance Taxes and Cyclical Layoff Incentives," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 4(1), pages 50-65, January.
    6. Feldstein, Martin S, 1978. "The Effect of Unemployment Insurance on Temporary Layoff Unemployment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 68(5), pages 834-846, December.
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