An Assessment of EI and SA Reporting in SLID
This study assesses two potential problems with respect to the reporting of Employment Insurance (EI) and Social Assistance (SA) benefits in the Survey of Labour and Income Dynamics (SLID): (a) under-reporting of the monthly number of beneficiaries; and (b) a tendency to incorrectly report receiving benefits throughout the year, while in fact benefits may have been received only in certain months, leading to artificial spikes in the January starts and December terminations of benefit spells (seam effect). The results of the analysis show the following: (1) The rate of under-reporting of EI in SLID is about 15%. Although it varies by month (from 0% to 30%), it is fairly stable from year to year. (2) There are significant spikes in the number of January starts and December terminations of EI benefit spells. However, the spikes in January starts appear to represent a real phenomenon, rather than a seam problem. They mirror closely the pattern of establishment of new EI claims (the latter increase significantly in January as a result of the decline in employment following the Christmas peak demand). There are no corresponding statistics for EI claim terminations to assess the nature of December spikes. (3) The rate of under-reporting of SA in SLID is about 50%, significantly greater than for EI. The rate of under-reporting goes down to about 20% to 30%, if we assume that those who received SA, but did not report in which months they received benefits, received benefits throughout the year. (4) There are large spikes in the number of January starts and December terminations. As in the case of EI, the SA could reflect a real phenomenon. After all, SA starts and terminations are affected by labour market conditions, in the same way EI starts and terminations are affected. However, the SA spikes are much larger than the EI spikes, which increases the probability that, at least in part, are due to a seam effect.
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