.ISSN (e) 1759-7331
(print) 1759-7323
Quantitative Economics
An open-access journal in quantitative economics
Journal of the
Econometric Society
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Quantitative Economics, Volume 11, Issue 3 (July 2020)

Eligibility, experience rating, and unemployment insurance take‐up

Stéphane Auray, David L. Fuller


In this paper, we investigate the causes and consequences of “unclaimed” unemployment insurance (UI) benefits. A search model is developed where the costs to collecting UI benefits include both a traditional “fixed” administrative cost and an endogenous cost arising from worker and firm interactions. Experience rated taxes give firms an incentive to challenge a worker's UI claim, and these challenges are costly for the worker. Exploiting data on improper denials of UI benefits across states in the U.S. system, a two‐way fixed effects analysis shows a statistically significant negative relationship between the improper denials and the UI take‐up rate, providing empirical support for our model. We calibrate the model to elasticities implied by the two‐way fixed effects regression to quantify the relative size of these UI collection costs. The results imply that on average the costs associated with firm challenges of UI claims account for 41% of the total costs of collecting, with improper denials accounting for 8% of the total cost. The endogenous collection costs imply the unemployment rate responds much slower to changes in UI benefits relative to a model with fixed collection costs. Finally, removing all eligibility requirements and allowing workers to collect UI benefits without cost shows these costs to be 4.5% of expected output net of vacancy costs. Moreover, this change has minimal impact on the unemployment rate.

Unemployment insurance take‐up rate experience rating matching frictions search E61 J32 J64 J65

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