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Comparing the effectiveness of employment subsidies

Author

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  • Brown, Alessio J. G.
  • Merkl, Christian
  • Snower, Dennis J.

Abstract

This paper provides a theoretical and quantitative analysis of various types of wellknown employment subsidies. Two important questions are addressed: (i) How should employment subsidies be targeted? (ii) How large should the subsidies be? We consider measures involving targeting workers with low incomes/abilities and targeting the unemployed. To make our analysis particularly useful to policy makers, we focus on policies that are "approximately welfare efficient," i.e. policies that (a) improve employment and welfare, (b) do not raise earnings inequality and (c) are self-financing. This criterion enables us to identify policies which satisfy these favorable properties and to determine the size of the subsidies required for this purpose. We construct a simple, dynamic model of hiring and separations, derived from microfoundations, and calibrate it with German data. The calibration shows that hiring vouchers targeted at the long-term unemployed and low-income/ability workers can be approximately welfare efficient, while low-wage subsidies do not satisfy this criterion. Even in terms of inequality reduction low-wage subsidies are outperformed by targeted hiring vouchers. Furthermore, hiring vouchers targeted at the long-term unemployed are more effective than hiring vouchers targeted at low-income/ability workers. These subsidy rankings also hold if the self-financing constraint is relaxed and the government spends a given additional amount on the subsidies.

Suggested Citation

  • Brown, Alessio J. G. & Merkl, Christian & Snower, Dennis J., 2010. "Comparing the effectiveness of employment subsidies," Kiel Working Papers 1302 [rev.], Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:ifwkwp:1302r
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    low wage subsidy; hiring voucher; targeting; employment; unemployment; duration; self-financing;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J23 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Demand
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • 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
    • J68 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Public Policy

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