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Unemployment benefits and educational choices

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  • Paul Frijters

    (QUT)

Abstract

In this paper it is argued that the risk-pooling role of unemployment benefits affects the irreversible choices of future labour market entrants. One such ex ante choice is education. Some types of education lead to general human capital that lead to almost certain employment. Other types of education are more specialised and lead to less secure employment. We address this issue in OLG search models that allow for riskaversion, heterogeneity in talents, endogenous price formation of different specialisations, and competitive wage formation. We find that in the absence of unemployment benefits, the percentage of individuals taking high-risk specialised education is inefficiently low. Those with higher innate abilities are typically found to take lower degrees of specialisation, implying that the relation between wages and risks at the individual level is the reverse from what it is at the aggregate level. We find that an unemployment benefit (UB) system raises efficiency and welfare because it promotes efficient specialisation. Because education takes time, it takes a long time before the composition of the workforce has adapted to changing incentives. With a calibrated model we explore such lags between unexpected changes in circumstances and outcomes.

Suggested Citation

  • Paul Frijters, 2001. "Unemployment benefits and educational choices," School of Economics and Finance Discussion Papers and Working Papers Series 099a, School of Economics and Finance, Queensland University of Technology.
  • Handle: RePEc:qut:dpaper:099a
    as

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    File URL: http://external-apps.qut.edu.au/business/documents/discussionPapers/2001/WP099a.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Daron Acemoglu & Robert Shimer, 1999. "Efficient Unemployment Insurance," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(5), pages 893-928, October.
    2. Blanchard, Olivier & Wolfers, Justin, 2000. "The Role of Shocks and Institutions in the Rise of European Unemployment: The Aggregate Evidence," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 110(462), pages 1-33, March.
    3. Acemoglu, Daron & Shimer, Robert, 2000. "Productivity gains from unemployment insurance," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 44(7), pages 1195-1224, June.
    4. Liliane Bonnal & Denis Fougère & Anne Sérandon, 1997. "Evaluating the Impact of French Employment Policies on Individual Labour Market Histories," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 64(4), pages 683-713.
    5. Daniel, Christophe & Sofer, Catherine, 1998. "Bargaining, Compensating Wage Differentials, and Dualism of the Labor Market: Theory and Evidence for France," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 16(3), pages 546-575, July.
    6. Aumann, Robert J., 1977. "The St. Petersburg paradox: A discussion of some recent comments," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 14(2), pages 443-445, April.
    7. Burdett, Kenneth, 1979. "Unemployment Insurance Payments as a Search Subsidy: A Theoretical Analysis," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 17(3), pages 333-343, July.
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