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Recent Trends in Insured and Uninsured Unemployment: Is There an Explanation?

  • Rebecca Blank
  • David Card
  • Whitney Newey

This paper presents new evidence on the reasons for the recent decline in the fraction of unemployed workers who receive unemployment insurance benefits. Using samples of unemployed workers from the March Current Population Survey, we estimate the fraction of unemployed workers who are potentially eligible for benefits in each year and compare this to the fraction who actually receive unemployment compensation. Perhaps surprisingly, we find that the decline in the fraction of insured unemployment is due to a decline in the takeup rate for benefits . Our estimates indicate that takeup rates declined abruptly between 1980 and 1982, leading to a 6 percentage point decline in the fraction of the unemployed who receive benefits. We go on to analyze the determinants of the takeup rate for unemployment benefits, using both aggregated state-level data and micro-data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics. Changes in the regional distribution of unemployment account for roughly one-half of the decline in average takeup rates. The remainder of the change is largely unexplained.

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Paper provided by Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section. in its series Working Papers with number 623.

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Date of creation: Nov 1988
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:pri:indrel:dsp01tt44pm86h
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  1. Gary Burtless, 1983. "Why Is Insured Unemployment So Low?," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 14(1), pages 225-254.
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