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Delayed Collection of Unemployment Insurance during Recessions

Xie, Zoe (2015): Delayed Collection of Unemployment Insurance during Recessions.

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Contrary to assumptions in the unemployment insurance (UI) literature, this paper argues that unemployed workers do not always lose uncollected UI benefits when they start a new job. Instead, they may postpone the collection of leftover benefits to future unemployment spells. Further, using cross-time and cross-state variations in UI policies, the paper finds empirical evidence that allowing unemployed workers to delay the collection of benefits increases their incentives to find a job during recessions when wages are low, job separation rates are high, and UI benefits are extended. I quantify the effects of the policy of allowing delayed collection of benefits on aggregate unemployment by introducing endogenous search effort, benefit eligibility, and wage indexed benefits into a standard search-and-matching framework. The model demonstrates how the policy increases the future value of employment even though more generous UI benefits in general reduce the net value of employment. Using a calibrated model,I find that allowing delayed benefit collection raises the proportion of unemployed workers receiving benefits and reduces the unemployment rate during 2009–2012.

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