AbstractA common finding of the optimal unemployment insurance (UI) literature is that the optimal replacement rate is around 50 percent; however, a key assumption is that UI is the only government spending activity. I show that optimal UI levels may be dramatically reduced when UI is a small part of overall spending: the negative impact of UI on income tax revenues implies added welfare costs, a mechanism that I call a fiscal externality. Using both a standard calibrated structural job search model and a “sufficient statistics” method, I find that the optimal replacement rate is zero when fiscal externalities are incorporated. (JEL E24, H24, J64, J65)
American Economic Journal: Economic Policy – American Economic Association
Published: Nov 1, 2017
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