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An Adverse Selection Model of Optimal Unemployment Insurance

  • Marcus Hagedorn
  • Ashok Kaul
  • Tim Mennel

We ask whether offering a menu of unemployment insurance contracts is welfare-improving in a heterogeneous population. We adopt a repeated moral hazard framework as in Shavell/Weiss (1979), supplemented by unobserved heterogeneity about agents’ job opportunities. Our main theoretical contribution is an analytical characterization of the sets of jointly feasible entitlements that renders an efficient computation of these sets feasible. Our main economic result is that optimal contracts for “bad” searchers tend to be upward-sloping due to an adverse selection effect. This is in contrast to the well-known optimal decreasing time profile of benefits in pure moral hazard environments that continue to be optimal for “good” searchers in our model.

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Paper provided by Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich in its series IEW - Working Papers with number 315.

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Date of creation: Mar 2007
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Handle: RePEc:zur:iewwpx:315
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  1. Hagedorn, Marcus & Kaul, Ashok & Mennel, Tim, 2002. "An Adverse Selection Model of Optimal Unemployment Insurance," IZA Discussion Papers 681, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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  9. Fernandes, Ana & Phelan, Christopher, 2000. "A Recursive Formulation for Repeated Agency with History Dependence," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 91(2), pages 223-247, April.
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  12. Dale T. Mortensen, 1983. "A Welfare Analysis of Unemployment Insurance: Variations on Second Best Themes," Discussion Papers 549, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  13. Atkeson, Andrew & Lucas, Robert E, Jr, 1992. "On Efficient Distribution with Private Information," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 59(3), pages 427-53, July.
  14. Rasmus Lentz, 2003. "Optimal Unemployment Insurance in an Estimated Job Search Model with Savings," CAM Working Papers 2004-10, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics. Centre for Applied Microeconometrics.
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  18. Kenneth L. Judd, 1998. "Numerical Methods in Economics," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262100711, June.
  19. Hopenhayn, H. & Nicolini, P.J., 1996. "Optimal Unemployment Insurance," RCER Working Papers 421, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).
  20. Edi Karni, 1999. "Optimal Unemployment Insurance: A Survey," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 66(2), pages 442-465, October.
  21. Abreu, Dilip & Pearce, David & Stacchetti, Ennio, 1990. "Toward a Theory of Discounted Repeated Games with Imperfect Monitoring," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 58(5), pages 1041-63, September.
  22. Shavell, Steven & Weiss, Laurence, 1979. "The Optimal Payment of Unemployment Insurance Benefits over Time," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(6), pages 1347-62, December.
  23. Gilles Joseph & Thomas Weitzenblum, 2003. "Optimal Unemployment Insurance: Transitional Dynamics vs. Steady State," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 6(4), pages 869-884, October.
  24. Atkinson, Anthony B & Micklewright, John, 1991. "Unemployment Compensation and Labor Market Transitions: A Critical Review," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 29(4), pages 1679-1727, December.
  25. Pavoni, Nicola, 2007. "On optimal unemployment compensation," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(6), pages 1612-1630, September.
  26. Kenneth L. Judd & Sevin Yeltekin & James Conklin, 2003. "Computing Supergame Equilibria," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 71(4), pages 1239-1254, 07.
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