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The determination of unemployment benefits

  • DiTella, Rafael
  • MacCulloch, Robert

While much empirical research has been done on the labour market consequences of unemployment benefits, there is remarkably little evidence on the forces determining benefits. The paper presents a simple model where workers desire insurance against the possibility of unemployment and unemployment benefits increase the unemployment rate. We then conduct, what we believe, is one of the first empirical analyses of the determinants of the parameters of the unemployment benefit system. Using OECD data for 1971-1989, controlling for year and country fixed effects, and controlling for the political colour of the government, we find evidence suggesting that benefits fall when the unemployment rate is high. This is consistent with the tax-effect described in Wright (1986) and Atkinson (1990). There is weaker evidence that benefits increase with positive changes in the unemployment rate, which may be proxying for the inflow rate and could be called an insurance effect.

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Paper provided by University of Bonn, ZEI - Center for European Integration Studies in its series ZEI Working Papers with number B 04-2001.

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Date of creation: 2001
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Handle: RePEc:zbw:zeiwps:b042001
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  1. Olivier Blanchard & Lawrence F. Katz, 1996. "What We Know and Do Not Know About the Natural Rate of Unemployment," NBER Working Papers 5822, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Dani Rodrik, 1996. "Why Do More Open Economies Have Bigger Governments?," NBER Working Papers 5537, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Robin Boadway & Andrew Oswald, 1982. "Unemployment Insurance and Redistributive Taxation," Working Papers 466, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
  4. Feldstein, Martin S, 1978. "The Effect of Unemployment Insurance on Temporary Layoff Unemployment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 68(5), pages 834-46, December.
  5. Erzo F.P. Luttmer, 1999. "Group Loyalty and the Taste for Redistribution," JCPR Working Papers 61, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
  6. Baily, Martin Neil, 1978. "Some aspects of optimal unemployment insurance," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(3), pages 379-402, December.
  7. Ram, Rati, 1987. "Wagner's Hypothesis in Time-Series and Cross-section Perspectives:," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 69(2), pages 194-204, May.
  8. Manuel Arellano & Stephen Bond, 1991. "Some Tests of Specification for Panel Data: Monte Carlo Evidence and an Application to Employment Equations," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 58(2), pages 277-297.
  9. Wright, Randall, 1986. "The redistributive roles of unemployment insurance and the dynamics of voting," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(3), pages 377-399, December.
  10. Shapiro, Carl & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1984. "Equilibrium Unemployment as a Worker Discipline Device," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(3), pages 433-44, June.
  11. Kiander, Jaakko, 1993. "Endogenous unemployment insurance in a monopoly union model when job search matters," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 52(1), pages 101-115, August.
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