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Optimal unemployment insurance over the business cycle

Landais, Camille, Michaillat, Pascal and Saez, Emmanuel (2010) Optimal unemployment insurance over the business cycle. NBER working papers, 16526. National Bureau of Economic Research, Cambridge, USA.

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Abstract

This paper analyzes optimal unemployment insurance over the business cycle in a search model in which unemployment stems from matching frictions (in booms) and job rationing (in recessions). Job rationing during recessions introduces two novel effects ignored in previous studies of optimal unemployment insurance. First, job-search efforts have little effect on aggregate unemployment because the number of jobs available is limited, independently of matching frictions. Second, while job-search efforts increase the individual probability of finding a job, they create a negative externality by reducing other jobseekers’ probability of finding one of the few available jobs. Both effects are captured by the positive and countercyclical wedge between micro-elasticity and macro-elasticity of unemployment with respect to net rewards from work. We derive a simple optimal unemployment insurance formula expressed in terms of those two elasticities and risk aversion. The formula coincides with the classical Baily-Chetty formula only when unemployment is low, and macro- and micro-elasticity are (almost) equal. The formula implies that the generosity of unemployment insurance should be countercyclical. We illustrate this result by simulating the optimal unemployment insurance over the business cycle in a dynamic stochastic general equilibrium model calibrated with US data.

Item Type: Monograph (Discussion Paper)
Official URL: http://www.nber.org/
Additional Information: © 2010 The Authors
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HB Economic Theory
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
Journal of Economic Literature Classification System: E - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics > E2 - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment > E24 - Macroeconomics: Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution (includes wage indexation)
E - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics > E3 - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles > E32 - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
H - Public Economics > H2 - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue > H21 - Efficiency; Optimal Taxation
H - Public Economics > H2 - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue > H23 - Externalities; Redistributive Effects; Environmental Taxes and Subsidies
Sets: Departments > Economics
Collections > Economists Online
Research centres and groups > Centre for Economic Performance (CEP)
Rights: http://www.lse.ac.uk/library/usingTheLibrary/academicSupport/OA/depositYourResearch.aspx
Identification Number: 16526
Date Deposited: 14 Apr 2011 08:18
URL: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/35596/

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