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Unemployment benefits as a search subsidy: New evidence on duration and wage effects of unemployment insurance

  • Gangl, Markus
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    Job search models offer 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 wages. Based on panel data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation and the German Socio-Economic Panel for the 1980s and 1990s, the paper establishes empirical support for both benefit effects in both countries. If anything, there is evidence of a slightly more negative duration effect for the U.S. data, while positive UI effects on post-unemployment wages are stronger in the German data. In any event, the empirical estimates for the positive effects of unemployment benefits on wages substantially exceed those obtained in Addison and Blackburn’s recent paper based on Displaced Worker Survey data. In contrast to their findings, the data also provide ample evidence of stronger UI effects in the lower tails of the wage change distribution. At the cost of a fairly small prolongation of unemployment duration, unemployment benefits thus substantially reduce the scar effects of unemployment on workers’ future job records.

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    File URL: http://econstor.eu/bitstream/10419/43905/1/363106987.pdf
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    Paper provided by Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB) in its series Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Labor Market Policy and Employment with number FS I 02-208.

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    Date of creation: 2002
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    Handle: RePEc:zbw:wzblpe:fsi02208
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    1. Christian Belzil, 2001. "Unemployment Insurance and Subsequent Job Duration: Job Matching vs Unobserved Heterogeneity," CIRANO Working Papers 2001s-21, CIRANO.
    2. Gregory, Mary & Jukes, Robert, 2001. "Unemployment and Subsequent Earnings: Estimating Scarring among British Men 1984-94," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 111(475), pages F607-25, November.
    3. Mavromaras, Kostas G & Rudolph, Helmut, 1998. "Temporary Separations and Firm Size in the German Labour Market," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 60(2), pages 215-25, May.
    4. 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).
    5. Bruce C. Fallick, 1996. "A review of the recent empirical literature on displaced workers," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 50(1), pages 5-16, October.
    6. 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.
    7. 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, June.
    8. 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.
    9. Narendranathan, W & Nickell, S & Stern, J, 1985. "Unemployment Benefits Revisited," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 95(378), pages 307-29, June.
    10. 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.
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