Award Year

2015

Award Type

Honorable Mention

Dissertation Advisor

Raj Chetty

Abstract

Contrary to the predictions of standard reservation-wage search models, empirical studies consistently find that an extension of UI increases unemployment duration without improving subsequent wages. Chapter 1 addresses this puzzle in two steps. First, using administrative data from Austria and an age-based regression discontinuity design, we show that an extension of UI eligibility by nine weeks increases the average reemployment wage by a statistically significant 0.5%. We find that the UI effect on both unemployment durations and reemployment wages is larger for individuals with a high ex-ante likelihood of benefit exhaustion and for those laid off during local industry-specific downturns. Second, we show both theoretically and empirically that the UI effect on expected wage is determined by two offsetting forces: (i) agents on UI increase their reservation wages, which raises subsequent wages, but (ii) they also stay unemployed longer and thus experience a greater decrease in job opportunities, which reduces subsequent wages. Together, these results show that UI does have an economically significant impact on job quality consistent with theoretical predictions.

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