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Measuring Unemployment Insurance Generosity

  • Stephane Pallage

    (Universite du Quebec a Montreal)

  • Lyle Scruggs

    (University of Connecticut)

  • Christian Zimmermann

    (University of Connecticut)

In this paper, we develop a methodology to summarize the various policy parameters of an unemployment insurance scheme into a single generosity parameter. Unemployment insurance policies are multdimensional objects. They are typically defined by waiting periods, eligibility duration, benefit levels and asset tests when eligible, which makes intertemporal or international comparisons difficult. To make things worse, labor market conditions, such as the likelihood and duration of unemployment matter when assessing the generosity of different policies. We build a first model with such complex characteristics. Our model features heterogeneous agents that are liquidity constrained but can self-insure. We then build a second model that is similar, except that the unemployment insurance is simpler: it is deprived of waiting periods and agents are eligible forever with constant benefits. We then determine which level of benefits in this second model makes agents indifferent between both unemployment insurance policies. We apply this strategy to the unemployment insurance program of the United Kingdom and study how its generosity evolved over time.

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Paper provided by University of Connecticut, Department of Economics in its series Working papers with number 2008-42.

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Length: 23 pages
Date of creation: Nov 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:uct:uconnp:2008-42
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Web page: http://www.econ.uconn.edu/

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  1. Pallage, Stephane & Zimmermann, Christian, 2001. "Voting on Unemployment Insurance," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 42(4), pages 903-23, November.
  2. Gary D. Hansen & Ayse Imrohoroglu, 1990. "The Role of Unemployment Insurance in an Economy with Liquidity Constraints and Moral Hazard," UCLA Economics Working Papers 583, UCLA Department of Economics.
  3. Juan Botero & Simeon Djankov & Rafael LaPorta & Florencio López-de-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer, . "The Regulation of Labor," Working Paper 19483, Harvard University OpenScholar.
  4. Mendoza, Enrique G. & Razin, Assaf & Tesar, Linda L., 1994. "Effective tax rates in macroeconomics: Cross-country estimates of tax rates on factor incomes and consumption," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(3), pages 297-323, December.
  5. Ljungqvist, Lars & Sargent, Thomas J., 1997. "The European Unemployment Dilemma," Working Paper Series 481, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
  6. Howell David R. & Baker Dean & Glyn Andrew & Schmitt John, 2007. "Are Protective Labor Market Institutions at the Root of Unemployment? A Critical Review of the Evidence," Capitalism and Society, De Gruyter, vol. 2(1), pages 1-73, May.
  7. Shavell, Steven & Weiss, Laurence, 1979. "The Optimal Payment of Unemployment Insurance Benefits over Time," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(6), pages 1347-62, December.
  8. Marcus Hagedorn & Iourii Manovskii, 2008. "The Cyclical Behavior of Equilibrium Unemployment and Vacancies Revisited," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(4), pages 1692-1706, September.
  9. Hopenhayn, Hugo A & Nicolini, Juan Pablo, 1997. "Optimal Unemployment Insurance," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(2), pages 412-38, April.
  10. Pallage, Stephane & Zimmermann, Christian, 2005. "Heterogeneous labor markets and generosity towards the unemployed: an international perspective," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(1), pages 88-106, March.
  11. Gayle Allard, 2005. "Measuring The Changing Generosity Of Unemployment Benefits: Beyond Existing Indicators," Working Papers Economia wp05-18, Instituto de Empresa, Area of Economic Environment.
  12. Lyle Scruggs, 2006. "The Generosity of Social Insurance, 1971--2002," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 22(3), pages 349-364, Autumn.
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