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Unemployment Insurance in Developing Countries: The Case of Brazil

  • François Gerard

    (UC Berkeley)

  • Gustavo Gonzaga

    ()

    (Department of Economics PUC-Rio)

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.

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Paper provided by Department of Economics PUC-Rio (Brazil) in its series Textos para discussão with number 593.

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Length: 40p
Date of creation: Aug 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:rio:texdis:593
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  1. Olivier J. Blanchard & Jean Tirole, 2008. "The Joint Design of Unemployment Insurance and Employment Protection: A First Pass," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 6(1), pages 45-77, 03.
  2. Reyes Hartley, Gonzalo & van Ours, Jan C. & Vodopivec, Milan, 2010. "Incentive Effects of Unemployment Insurance Savings Accounts: Evidence from Chile," IZA Discussion Papers 4681, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. Raymundo M. Campos-Vázquez & Melissa A. Knox, 2010. "Social protection programs and employment: The case of Mexico’s “Seguro Popular” program," Serie documentos de trabajo del Centro de Estudios Económicos 2010-14, El Colegio de México, Centro de Estudios Económicos.
  4. Steven J. Davis & R. Jason Faberman & John Haltiwanger, 2006. "The Flow Approach to Labor Markets: New Data Sources and Micro-Macro Links," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 20(3), pages 3-26, Summer.
  5. Johannes F. Schmieder & Till M. von Wachter & Stefan Bender, 2012. "The Effects of Extended Unemployment Insurance over the Business Cycle: Evidence from Regression Discontinuity Estimates Over Twenty Years," NBER Working Papers 17813, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Gustavo Gonzaga, 2003. "Labor Turnover and Labor Legislation in Brazil," ECONOMIA JOURNAL OF THE LATIN AMERICAN AND CARIBBEAN ECONOMIC ASSOCIATION, ECONOMIA JOURNAL OF THE LATIN AMERICAN AND CARIBBEAN ECONOMIC ASSOCIATION.
  7. Fields, Gary S., 1975. "Rural-urban migration, urban unemployment and underemployment, and job-search activity in LDCs," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 2(2), pages 165-187, June.
  8. Ricardo Paes de Barros & Carlos Henrique Corseuil, 2004. "The Impact of Regulations on Brazilian Labor Market Performance," NBER Chapters, in: Law and Employment: Lessons from Latin America and the Caribbean, pages 273-350 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Ulyssea, Gabriel, 2010. "Regulation of entry, labor market institutions and the informal sector," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(1), pages 87-99, January.
  10. Adriana Camacho & Emily Conover, 2011. "Manipulation of Social Program Eligibility," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 3(2), pages 41-65, May.
  11. Chetty, Raj, 2006. "A general formula for the optimal level of social insurance," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(10-11), pages 1879-1901, November.
  12. Azuara, Oliver & Marinescu, Ioana, 2013. "Informality and the expansion of social protection programs: Evidence from Mexico," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(5), pages 938-950.
  13. David MARGOLIS, 2008. "“Unemployment Insurance Versus Individual Unemployment Accounts and Transitions to Formal Versus Informal Sector Jobs”," Working Papers 2008-35, Centre de Recherche en Economie et Statistique.
  14. Jan C. van Ours & Milan Vodopivec, 2006. "How Shortening the Potential Duration of Unemployment Benefits Affects the Duration of Unemployment: Evidence from a Natural Experiment," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(2), pages 351-378, April.
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