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Welfare state stabilization of employment careers: Unenployement benefits and job histories in the United States and West Germany

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  • Gangl, Markus

Abstract

Economic job search theory offers two complementary predictions about the effects of unemployment benefits on job search outcomes among unemployed workers. By raising workers' reservation wages, unemployment benefits should contribute to both prolonged spell duration and improved post-unemployment job quality. In contrast to many previous empirical studies that have addressed the negative benefit effect on duration only, the current paper jointly addresses the causal effect of unemployment benefits on both unemployment duration and post-unemployment job quality. Based on discrete-time event history methods and U.S. and German panel data for the 1980s and 1990s, the paper establishes empirical support for both types of benefit effects in both countries. Hence, the effect of unemployment benefits on employment careers is more appropriately described as career stabilization induced by welfare state provision of job search resources. Against some prolongation of unemployment spells, unemployment benefits effectively enable workers to maintain previously accumulated human capital by fostering adequate reemployment in terms of earnings, occupations, or job duration. Consistent with this view, unemployment benefits turn out as particularly effective in preventing severe losses in postunemployment job quality, but also in terms of maintaining job qua lity among highskill workers. Through these effects of benefits on job histories, cross-national differences in welfare state generosity also assume an important role in explaining U.S.-German differences in terms of unemployment dynamics.

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  • Gangl, Markus, 2002. "Welfare state stabilization of employment careers: Unenployement benefits and job histories in the United States and West Germany," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Labor Market Policy and Employment FS I 02-207, Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB).
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:wzblpe:fsi02207
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    1. Katharine G. Abraham & Susan N. Houseman, 1993. "Job Security in America: Lessons from Germany," Books from Upjohn Press, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, number kagsnh1993, November.
    2. Blau, David M. & Robins, Philip K., 1986. "Job search, wage offers, and unemployment insurance," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(2), pages 173-197, March.
    3. Katz, Lawrence F. & Meyer, Bruce D., 1990. "The impact of the potential duration of unemployment benefits on the duration of unemployment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(1), pages 45-72, February.
    4. Belzil, Christian, 2000. "Unemployment Insurance and Subsequent Job Duration: Job Matching vs Unobserved Heterogeneity," IZA Discussion Papers 116, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    5. Addison, John T. & Blackburn, McKinley L., 2000. "The effects of unemployment insurance on postunemployment earnings," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 7(1), pages 21-53, January.
    6. Schömann, Klaus & Flechtner, Stefanie & Mytzek, Ralf & Schömann, Isabelle, 2000. "Moving towards employment insurance: Unemployment insurance and employment protection in the OECD," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Labor Market Policy and Employment FS I 00-201, Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB).
    7. Steiner, Viktor, 1997. "Extended benefit entitlement periods and the duration of unemployment in West Germany," ZEW Discussion Papers 97-14, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
    8. Narendranathan, W & Nickell, S & Stern, J, 1985. "Unemployment Benefits Revisited," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 95(378), pages 307-329, June.
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