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Unemployment Insurance in an Economy with a Hidden Labor Market


  • Alvarez-Parra, Fernando A.
  • Sanchez, Juan M.


This paper considers the problem of optimal unemployment insurance in a moral hazard framework. Unlike existing literature, unemployed workers can secretly participate in a hidden labor market; as a consequence, an endogenous lower bound for promised utility preventing "immiserization" arises. Moreover, the presence of a hidden labor market makes possible an extra deviation and therefore hardens the provision of incentives. Under linear cost of effort, we show that the optimal contract prescribes no participation in the hidden labor market and a decreasing sequence of unemployment payments until the lower bound for promised utility is reached. At that moment, participation jumps and unemployment payments drop down to zero. For the case of non-linear effort cost we calibrate the model to Spain. As in the linear cost of effort, this exercise reproduces no participation and decreasing payments during the initial phase of unemployment. After around three years of unemployment, the contract prescribes a jump in participation and an abrupt decline in unemployment payments. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first paper justifying an abrupt drop in unemployment payments. In addition, the quantitative analysis suggests that in an environment in which agents differ in separation rate, the hidden labor market reinforces the benefits from a type-dependent unemployment system.

Suggested Citation

  • Alvarez-Parra, Fernando A. & Sanchez, Juan M., 2006. "Unemployment Insurance in an Economy with a Hidden Labor Market," MPRA Paper 2531, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:2531

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Fortin, Bernard & Marceau, Nicolas & Savard, Luc, 1997. "Taxation, wage controls and the informal sector," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 66(2), pages 293-312, November.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.
    4. Wang, Cheng & Williamson, Stephen, 1996. "Unemployment insurance with moral hazard in a dynamic economy," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 44(1), pages 1-41, June.
    5. Cheng Wang, 1995. "Dynamic Insurance with Private Information and Balanced Budgets," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 62(4), pages 577-595.
    6. Vodopivec, Milan & Raju, Dhushyanth, 2002. "Income support systems for the unemployed : issues and options," Social Protection and Labor Policy and Technical Notes 25529, The World Bank.
    7. Narayana Kocherlakota, 2004. "Figuring out the Impact of Hidden Savings on Optimal Unemployment Insurance," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 7(3), pages 541-554, July.
    8. Pavoni, Nicola, 2007. "On optimal unemployment compensation," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(6), pages 1612-1630, September.
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    13. Phelan Christopher, 1995. "Repeated Moral Hazard and One-Sided Commitment," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 66(2), pages 488-506, August.
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    Cited by:

    1. Luz Adriana Flórez, 2014. "The Efficiency of the Informal Sector on the Search and Matching Framework," Borradores de Economia 832, Banco de la Republica de Colombia.

    More about this item


    Unemployment Insurance; Hidden Labor Markets; Moral Hazard; Recursive Contracts;

    JEL classification:

    • J68 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Public Policy
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design

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