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The Optimal Dole with Risk Aversion, Job Destruction, and Worker Heterogeneity

  • Carl Davidson

    (Michigan State University)

  • Stephen A. Woodbury

    ()

    (W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research)

This paper extends earlier research on optimal unemployment insurance (UI) by developing an equilibrium search model that encompasses simultaneously several theoretical and institutional features that have been treated one-by-one (or not at all) in previous discussions of optimal UI. In particular, the model we develop allows us to determine the optimal potential duration of UI benefits as well as the optimal UI benefit amount; assumes (realistically) that not all workers are eligible for UI benefits; allows examination of various degrees of risk aversion by workers; models labor demand so that the job destruction effects of UI are taken into account; and treats workers as heterogeneous. The model suggests that the current statutory replacement rate of 50 percent provided by most states in the United States is close to optimal, but that the current potential duration of benefits (which is usually 26 weeks) is probably too short. This basic result--that the optimal UI system is characterized by a fairly low replacement rate and a long potential duration-- conflicts with most of the existing literature on optimal UI. We argue, however, that the result is consistent with a large literature on optimal insurance contracts in the presence of moral hazard.

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Paper provided by W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research in its series Upjohn Working Papers and Journal Articles with number 97-47.

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Date of creation: Jan 1997
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Handle: RePEc:upj:weupjo:97-47
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  1. Carl Davidson & Stephen A. Woodbury, 1996. "Unemployment Insurance and Unemployment Implications of the Reemployment Bonus Experiments," Book chapters authored by Upjohn Institute researchers, in: Advisory Council on Unemployment Compensation: Background Papers, volume 3, pages KK1-KK37 W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
  2. Fredriksson, P. & Holmlund, B., 1998. "Optimal Unemployment Insurance in Search Equilibrium," Papers 1998-2, Uppsala - Working Paper Series.
  3. Carl Davidson & Stephen A. Woodbury, 1990. "The Displacement Effect of Reemployment Bonus Programs," Upjohn Working Papers and Journal Articles 90-02, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
  4. Card, David & Levine, Phillip B., 1994. "Unemployment insurance taxes and the cyclical and seasonal properties of unemployment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(1), pages 1-29, January.
  5. Stephen Williamson & Cheng Wang, 1995. "Unemployment Insurance with Moral Hazard in a Dynamic Economy," Macroeconomics 9506002, EconWPA.
  6. Dale T. Mortensen, 1994. "Reducing supply-side disincentives to job creation," Proceedings - Economic Policy Symposium - Jackson Hole, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, issue Jan, pages 189-237.
  7. Shavell, Steven, 1979. "On Moral Hazard and Insurance," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 93(4), pages 541-62, November.
  8. Lars Ljungqvist & Thomas J. Sargent, 1995. "The European unemployment dilemma," Working Paper Series, Macroeconomic Issues 95-17, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  9. Stephen P. Zeldes, . "Consumption and Liquidity Constraints: An Empirical Investigation," Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research Working Papers 16-88, Wharton School Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research.
  10. Abraham, Katharine G, 1983. "Structural-Frictional vs. Deficient Demand Unemployment: Some New Evidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(4), pages 708-24, September.
  11. Raviv, Artur, 1979. "The Design of an Optimal Insurance Policy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 69(1), pages 84-96, March.
  12. 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.
  13. Rebecca Blank & David Card & Whitney Newey, 1988. "Recent Trends in Insured and Uninsured Unemployment: Is There an Explanation?," Working Papers 623, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  14. Stephen A. Woodbury, 2009. "Unemployment," Book chapters authored by Upjohn Institute researchers, in: Kenneth G. Dau-Schmidt & Seth D. Harris & Orley Lobel (ed.), Labor and Employment Law and Economics, volume 2, pages 480-516 W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
    • Stephen A. Woodbury, 2009. "Unemployment," Chapters, in: Labor and Employment Law and Economics, chapter 17 Edward Elgar.
  15. 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.
  16. Diamond, Peter A, 1982. "Wage Determination and Efficiency in Search Equilibrium," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 49(2), pages 217-27, April.
  17. Carl Davidson & Stephen A. Woodbury, . "Optimal Unemployment Insurance," Upjohn Working Papers and Journal Articles cdsaw1997, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
  18. Christopher J. O'Leary, 1996. "The Adequacy of Unemployment Insurance Benefits," Book chapters authored by Upjohn Institute researchers, in: Advisory Council on Unemployment Compensation: Background Papers, volume 3, pages EE1-EE60 W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
  19. Rothschild, Michael & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1976. "Equilibrium in Competitive Insurance Markets: An Essay on the Economics of Imperfect Information," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 90(4), pages 630-49, November.
  20. Flemming, J. S., 1978. "Aspects of optimal unemployment insurance : Search, leisure, savings and capital market imperfections," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(3), pages 403-425, December.
  21. Jonathan Gruber, 1994. "The Consumption Smoothing Benefits of Unemployment Insurance," NBER Working Papers 4750, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  22. McCall, Brian P, 1995. "The Impact of Unemployment Insurance Benefit Levels on Recipiency," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 13(2), pages 189-98, April.
  23. Paul Storer & Marc A. Van Audenrode, 1995. "Unemployment Insurance Take-Up Rates in Canada: Facts, Determinants, and Implications," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 28(4a), pages 822-35, November.
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