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Unemployment Insurance in Developing Countries: The Case of Brazil

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  • François Gerard

    (UC Berkeley)

  • Gustavo Gonzaga

    () (Department of Economics PUC-Rio)

Abstract

Few developing countries have adopted an Unemployment Insurance (UI) program but the list of countries considering its implementation is growing. Focusing on the Brazilian UI program and using administrative data covering the universe of formal employment, we provide empirical evidence documenting two relevant facts for the debate around the design of such program in countries characterized by a large informal sector and a lack of administrative and enforcement capacity. First, UI benefits strongly affects the timing of formal job finding for those workers able to find a formal job soon after job-loss. Second, those workers constitute a small share of the overall pool of UI beneficiaries, since most job-losers do not find a formal job rapidly. Therefore, offering UI is costly (most beneficiaries would exhaust their benefits for typical lengths of benefit duration) and UI benefits have little distortionary effect on the job-finding behavior of the average (formal) job-loser: they constitute pure income transfers for 3/4 of the potential beneficiaries. We further discuss implications of these 2 facts and highlight some interactions with job protection legislations (hiring costs), the main policy instrument used to protect workers from labor demand fluctuations in those countries.

Suggested Citation

  • François Gerard & Gustavo Gonzaga, 2011. "Unemployment Insurance in Developing Countries: The Case of Brazil," Textos para discussão 593, Department of Economics PUC-Rio (Brazil).
  • Handle: RePEc:rio:texdis:593
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    References listed on IDEAS

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