Unemployment Insurance during a Pandemic
The CARES Act implemented in response to the COVID-19 crisis dramatically increases the generosity of unemployment insurance (UI) benefits, triggering concerns about its substantial impact on unemployment. This paper combines a labor market search-matching model with the SIR-type infection dynamics to study the effects of CARES UI on both unemployment and infection. More generous UI policies create work disincentives and lead to higher unemployment, but they also reduce infection and save lives. Economic shutdown policies further amplify these effects of UI policies. Quantitatively, the CARES ...
Reconciling Unemployment Claims with Job Losses in the First Months of the COVID-19 Crisis
In the spring of 2020, many observers relied heavily on weekly initial claims for unemployment insurance benefits (UI) to estimate contemporaneous reductions in US employment induced by the COVID-19 pandemic. Though UI claims provided a timely, high-frequency window into mounting layoffs, the cumulative volume of initial claims filed through the May reference week substantially exceeded realized reductions in payroll employment and likely contributed to the historically large discrepancy between consensus expectations of further April-to-May job losses and the strong job gains reflected in ...
Macroeconomics and Household Heterogeneity
The goal of this chapter is to study how, and by how much, household income, wealth, and preference heterogeneity amplify and propagate a macroeconomic shock. We focus on the U.S. Great Recession of 2007-2009 and proceed in two steps. First, using data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, we document the patterns of household income, consumption and wealth inequality before and during the Great Recession. We then investigate how households in different segments of the wealth distribution were affected by income declines, and how they changed their expenditures differentially during the ...
Labor Market Responses to Unemployment Insurance: The Role of Heterogeneity
We document considerable scope of heterogeneity within the unemployed, especially when the unemployed are divided along eligibility and receipt of unemployment insurance (UI). We develop a heterogeneous-agent job-search model capable of matching the wealth and income differences that distinguish UI recipients from non-recipients. Labor market responses to UI changes are non-monotonic in wealth because the poorest individuals exhibit weak responses due to the high value they attribute to employment. Differential elasticities imply that the extent to which structural models account for the ...
Changes in State Unemployment Insurance Rules during the COVID-19 Outbreak in the U.S.
The COVID-19 pandemic led to an unprecedented expansion in unemployment insurance (UI) eligibility across states. While more than forty states had modified UI rules by the end of March, not all states responded in the same way. In this article, I summarize the changes to state UI rules in response to the crisis and explore factors that have contributed to the variation in states’ responses.
Unemployment Insurance during a Pandemic
The CARES Act implemented in response to the COVID-19 crisis dramatically increases the generosity of unemployment insurance (UI) benefits, triggering concerns about its substantial impact on unemployment. This paper combines a labor market search-matching model with the SIR-type infection dynamics to study the effects of CARES UI on both unemployment and infection. More generous UI policies create work disincentives and lead to higher unemployment, but they also reduce infection and save lives. Shutdown policies and infection risk further amplify these effects of UI policies. Quantitatively, ...
How Should Unemployment Insurance Vary over the Business Cycle?
We study optimal unemployment insurance (UI) over the business cycle using a heterogeneous agent job search model with aggregate risk and incomplete markets. We validate the model-implied micro and macro labor market elasticities to changes in UI generosity against existing estimates, and provide an explanation for divergent empirical findings. We show that generating the observed demographic differences between UI recipients and non-recipients is critical in determining the magnitudes of these elasticities. We find that the optimal policy features countercyclical replacement rates with ...
Reservation Benefits: Assessing job acceptance impacts of increased UI payments
Job acceptance decisions weigh the value of an entire job spell relative to remaining unemployed. There exists a reservation level of beneﬁt payments in this dynamic decision problem at which an individual is indifferent between accepting and refusing an offer. This reservation beneﬁt is a simple statistic to test the job acceptance deterrence effects of current unemployment insurance (UI) payments, summarizing the decision problem conditional on the believed state of the labor market and the weeks of UI compensation remaining. Estimating the reservation beneﬁt for a wide range of US ...
Student Loans Under the Risk of Youth Unemployment
While most college graduates eventually find jobs that match their qualifications, the possibility of long spells of unemployment and/or underemployment?combined with ensuing difficulties in repaying student loans?may limit and even dissuade productive investments in human capital. The author explores the optimal design of student loans when young college graduates can be unemployed and reaches three main conclusions. First, the optimal student loan program must incorporate an unemployment compensation mechanism as a key element, even if unemployment probabilities are endogenous and subject ...
On the Distribution of the Welfare Losses of Large Recessions
How big are the welfare losses from severe economic downturns, such as the U.S. Great Recession? How are those losses distributed across the population? In this paper we answer these questions using a canonical business cycle model featuring household income and wealth heterogeneity that matches micro data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID). We document how these losses are distributed across households and how they are affected by social insurance policies. We find that the welfare cost of losing one?s job in a severe recession ranges from 2% of lifetime consumption for the ...