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