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Unemployment Compensation and High European Unemployment: A Reassessment with New Benefit Indicators

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  • David R. Howell
  • Miriam Rehm

Abstract

Generous unemployment benefits lie at the heart of the conventional explanation for persistent high unemployment. The effects of benefit generosity are more ambiguous in a broader behavioral framework in which workers get substantial disutility from unemployment controlling for income, and know that unemployment has scarring effects in the future. The micro evidence suggests modest effects of changes in generosity, but there are reasons to doubt that the impacts on national unemployment rates are consequential. The strongest evidence for the orthodox prediction comes from cross-country regressions on the OECD’s gross replacement rate (GRR), but we find little support in the pattern of annual changes in the GRR and the unemployment rate for OECD countries over the last three decades. We take advantage of newly released and much improved net replacement rate indicators from the OECD, which show little correlation with either the GRRs or with unemployment and employment rates. The evidence does not offer compelling support for the view that benefit generosity is at the root of high European unemployment.

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  • David R. Howell & Miriam Rehm, 2009. "Unemployment Compensation and High European Unemployment: A Reassessment with New Benefit Indicators," Working Papers wp201, Political Economy Research Institute, University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
  • Handle: RePEc:uma:periwp:wp201
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    Cited by:

    1. David R. Howell, 2010. "Institutions, Aggregate Demand and Cross-Country Employment Performance: Alternative Theoretical Perspectives and the Evidence," Working Papers wp228, Political Economy Research Institute, University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
    2. Andrés Rodríguez-Pose & Vassilis Tselios, 2012. "Welfare Regimes and the Incentives to Work and Get Educated," Environment and Planning A, , vol. 44(1), pages 125-149, January.
    3. Simon STURN, 2013. "Are corporatist labour markets different? Labour market regimes and unemployment in OECD countries," International Labour Review, International Labour Organization, vol. 152(2), pages 237-254, June.
    4. Marta Aloi & Teresa Lloyd-Braga & Manuel Leite-Monteiro, 2017. "Welfare benefit reforms and employment," Discussion Papers 2017/02, University of Nottingham, Centre for Finance, Credit and Macroeconomics (CFCM).
    5. repec:eee:streco:v:44:y:2018:i:c:p:34-45 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Sachverständigenrat zur Begutachtung der Gesamtwirtschaftlichen Entwicklung (ed.), 2013. "Gegen eine rückwärtsgewandte Wirtschaftspolitik. Jahresgutachten 2013/14," Annual Economic Reports / Jahresgutachten, German Council of Economic Experts / Sachverständigenrat zur Begutachtung der gesamtwirtschaftlichen Entwicklung, volume 127, number 201314.
    7. repec:kap:sbusec:v:49:y:2017:i:4:d:10.1007_s11187-017-9857-7 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Laszlo Goerke & Markus Pannenberg & Heinrich Ursprung, 2010. "A positive theory of the earnings relationship of unemployment benefits," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 145(1), pages 137-163, October.
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    11. Andreas Sachs & Frauke Schleer, 2013. "Labour market performance in OECD countries: A comprehensive empirical modelling approach of institutional interdependencies," WWWforEurope Working Papers series 7, WWWforEurope.
    12. Simon Sturn, 2011. "Labour market regimes and unemployment in OECD countries," IMK Working Paper 6-2011, IMK at the Hans Boeckler Foundation, Macroeconomic Policy Institute.
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