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Optimal Unemployment Insurance with Variable Skill Levels

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  • Andreas Pollak

    (University of Freiburg)

Abstract

I study the consequences of heterogeneity of skills for the design of an optimal unemployment insurance, using a principal-agent set-up with a risk neutral insurer and infinitely lived risk averse agents. Agents, who are characterised by different productivities or skills, are employed by firms offering wages that depend both on the agents’ individual skill level and the quality of the worker-firm-match. Agents face the risk of losing their job and, while unemployed, are offered jobs with different match qualities. No search effort by the agent is needed to receive offers. Individual productivity declines during unemployment due to depreciation of skills and increases on the job because of learning by doing. Any insurance offered must take into account the moral hazard problem created by the fact that job offers are private information to the agent. A further complication is due to the unobservability of an agent’s productivity. I find that under an optimal contract, periods of unemployment are characterised by declining benefits. Agents are further punished for long unemployment by reducing expected future utility. A new result obtained from this approach is the observation that under an efficient contract, agents whose productivity is relatively high tend to have a shorter unemployment duration and a higher productivity growth in the future. Unemployment benefits do not only depend on an agent’s employment history, but also on the skills reported by the agent. Agents are punished for accepting jobs that do not seem to be in line with their reported skills.

Suggested Citation

  • Andreas Pollak, 2004. "Optimal Unemployment Insurance with Variable Skill Levels," Labor and Demography 0409004, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpla:0409004
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. repec:mhr:jinste:urn:sici:0932-4569(201712)173:4_688:jh_2.0.tx_2- is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Wang, Cheng & Williamson, Stephen, 1996. "Unemployment insurance with moral hazard in a dynamic economy," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 44(1), pages 1-41, June.
    3. Matthew J. Baker & Ingmar Nyman, 2017. "Job Hoarding," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 173(4), pages 688-722, December.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Unemployment Insurance; Human Capital; Adverse Selection; Moral Hazard;

    JEL classification:

    • C61 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Mathematical Methods; Programming Models; Mathematical and Simulation Modeling - - - Optimization Techniques; Programming Models; Dynamic Analysis
    • D78 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Positive Analysis of Policy Formulation and Implementation
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • J38 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Public Policy
    • J64 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Unemployment: Models, Duration, Incidence, and Job Search
    • J65 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Unemployment Insurance; Severance Pay; Plant Closings
    • J78 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination - - - Public Policy (including comparable worth)

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