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Do Unemployment Insurance Recipients Actively Seek Work? Randomized Trials in Four U.S. States

  • Orley Ashenfelter
  • David Ashmore
  • Olivier Deschenes

In the last two decades, U.S. policies have moved from the use of incentives to the use of sanctions to promote work effort in social programs. Surprisingly, except for anecdotes, there is very little systematic evidence of the extent to which sanctions applied to the abusive use of social entitlements result in greater work effort. In this paper we report the results of randomized trials designed to measure whether stricter enforcement and verification of work search behavior alone decreases unemployment (UI) claims and benefits. These experiments were designed to explicitly test claims based on non-experimental data failure of claimants to actively seek work. Our results provide no support for the view that the failure to actively seek work has been a cause of overpayment in the UI system.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w6982.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 6982.

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Date of creation: Feb 1999
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Publication status: published as Ashenfelter, Orley, David Ashmore and Olivier Deschenes. "Do Unemployment Insurance Recipients Actively Seek Work? Evidence From Randomized Trials In Four U.S. States," Journal of Econometrics, 2005, v125(1-2,Mar-Apr), 53-75.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:6982
Note: LS PE
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  1. Jerry A. Hausman & David A. Wise, 1983. "Technical Problems in Social Experimentation: Cost versus Ease of Analysis," NBER Working Papers 1061, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Douglas Wolf & David Greenberg, 1986. "The Dynamics of Welfare Fraud: An Econometric Duration Model in Discrete Time," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 21(4), pages 437-455.
  3. Bruce D. Meyer, 1995. "Lessons from the U.S. Unemployment Insurance Experiments," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 33(1), pages 91-131, March.
  4. James J. Heckman, 1991. "Randomization and Social Policy Evaluation," NBER Technical Working Papers 0107, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Heckman, James J & Smith, Jeffrey, 1997. "Making the Most Out of Programme Evaluations and Social Experiments: Accounting for Heterogeneity in Programme Impacts," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 64(4), pages 487-535, October.
  6. Ham, John C & LaLonde, Robert J, 1996. "The Effect of Sample Selection and Initial Conditions in Duration Models: Evidence from Experimental Data on Training," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 64(1), pages 175-205, January.
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