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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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    2. Biegert, Thomas, 2017. "Welfare Benefits and Unemployment in Affluent Democracies: The Moderating Role of the Institutional Insider/Outsider Divide," EconStor Open Access Articles and Book Chapters, ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics, pages 1037-1064.
    3. 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.
    4. 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.
    5. Dos Santos Ferreira, Rodolphe & Lloyd-Braga, Teresa & Modesto, Leonor, 2015. "The destabilizing effects of the social norm to work under a social security system," Mathematical Social Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 76(C), pages 64-72.
    6. Sachs, Andreas & Schleer, Frauke, 2019. "Labor Market Performance in OECD Countries: The Role of Institutional Interdependencies," EconStor Open Access Articles and Book Chapters, ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics, pages 431-454.
    7. Bauermann, Tom, 2020. "Governmental policies to reduce unemployment during recessions: Insights from an ABM," Ruhr Economic Papers 847, RWI - Leibniz-Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-University Bochum, TU Dortmund University, University of Duisburg-Essen.
    8. Brancaccio, Emiliano & Garbellini, Nadia & Giammetti, Raffaele, 2018. "Structural labour market reforms, GDP growth and the functional distribution of income," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 34-45.
    9. Bofinger, Peter & Buch, Claudia M. & Feld, Lars P. & Schmidt, Christoph M. & Wieland, Volker, 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.
    10. Catherine Laffineur & Saulo Dubard Barbosa & Alain Fayolle & Emeran Nziali, 2017. "Active labor market programs’ effects on entrepreneurship and unemployment," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 49(4), pages 889-918, December.
    11. Ryu‐ichiro Murota, 2018. "Aggregate demand deficiency, labor unions, and long‐run stagnation," Metroeconomica, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 69(4), pages 868-888, November.
    12. 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.
    13. Katharina Kunißen, 2019. "From Dependent to Independent Variable: A Critical Assessment of Operationalisations of ‘Welfare Stateness’ as Macro-Level Indicators in Multilevel Analyses," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 142(2), pages 597-616, April.
    14. Andreas Sachs & Frauke Schleer, 2013. "Labour Market Performance in OECD Countries: A Comprehensive Empirical Modelling Approach of Institutional Interdependencies. WWWforEurope Working Paper No. 7," WIFO Studies, WIFO, number 46851, September.
    15. Josef C Brada & Marcello Signorelli, 2012. "Comparing Labor Market Performance: Some Stylized Facts and Key Findings," Comparative Economic Studies, Palgrave Macmillan;Association for Comparative Economic Studies, vol. 54(2), pages 231-250, June.
    16. Niklas Potrafke, 2010. "Labor market deregulation and globalization: empirical evidence from OECD countries," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer;Institut für Weltwirtschaft (Kiel Institute for the World Economy), vol. 146(3), pages 545-571, September.
    17. Sachs, Andreas & Schleer, Frauke, 2013. "Labour market performance in OECD countries: A comprehensive empirical modelling approach of institutional interdependencies," ZEW Discussion Papers 13-040, ZEW - Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research.
    18. 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.
    19. Biegert, Thomas, 2017. "Welfare benefits and unemployment in affluent democracies: the moderating role of the institutional insider/outsider divide," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 85913, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    20. Altman, Morris, 2014. "Insights from behavioral economics on how labor markets work," Working Paper Series 3466, Victoria University of Wellington, School of Economics and Finance.
    21. Davide Furceri, 2012. "Unemployment and Labor Market Issues in Algeria," IMF Working Papers 2012/099, International Monetary Fund.

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