Unemployment Insurance and the Labor Market
Friday, Jan. 3, 2020 10:15 AM - 12:15 PM (PDT)
- Chair: Benjamin Schoefer, University of California-Berkeley
Unemployment Benefits and Unemployment in the Great Recession: The Role of Equilibrium Effects
AbstractEquilibrium labor market theory suggests that unemployment benefit extensions affect unemployment by impacting both job search decisions by the unemployed and job creation decisions by employers. The existing empirical literature focused on the former effect only. We develop a new methodology necessary to incorporate the measurement of the latter effect. Implementing this methodology in the data, we find that benefit extensions raise equilibrium wages and lead to a sharp contraction in vacancy creation, employment, and a rise in unemployment.
What Hides behind the German Labor Market Miracle? Unemployment Insurance Reforms and Labor Market Dynamics
AbstractA key question in labor market research is how the unemployment insurance system affects unemployment rates and labor market dynamics. We revisit this old question studying the German Hartz reforms. On average, lower separation rates explain 76% of declining unemployment after the reform, a fact unexplained by existing research focusing on job finding rates. The reduction in separation rates is heterogeneous, with long-term employed, high-wage workers being most affected. We causally link our empirical findings to the reduction in long-term unemployment benefits using a heterogeneous-agent labor market search model. Absent the reform, unemployment rates would be 50% higher today.
Wages and the Value of Nonemployment
AbstractNonemployment is often posited as a worker's outside option in wage setting models such as bargaining and wage posting. The value of this state is therefore a fundamental determinant of wages and, in turn, labor supply and job creation. We measure the effect of changes in the value of nonemployment on wages in existing jobs and among job switchers. Our quasi-experimental variation in nonemployment values arises from four large reforms of unemployment insurance (UI) benefit levels in Austria. We document that wages are insensitive to UI benefit levels: point estimates imply a wage response of less than $0.01 per $1.00 UI benefit increase, and we can reject sensitivities larger than 0.03. In contrast, a calibrated Nash bargaining model predicts a sensitivity of 0.39–more than ten times larger. The empirical insensitivity holds even among workers with a priori low bargaining power, with low labor force attachment, with high predicted unemployment duration, among job switchers and recently unemployed workers, in areas of high unemployment, in firms with flexible pay policies, and when considering firm-level bargaining. The insensitivity of wages to the nonemployment value we document presents a puzzle to widely used wage setting protocols, and implies that nonemployment may not constitute workers' relevant threat point. Our evidence supports wage-setting mechanisms that insulate wages from the value of nonemployment.
- E6 - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook
- J0 - General