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What Drives Job Search? Evidence from Google Search Data

Scott R. Baker

Stanford University - Department of Economics

Andrey Fradkin

Stanford University - Department of Economics

April 15, 2011

The large-scale unemployment caused by the Great Recession has necessitated unprecedented increases in the duration of unemployment insurance (UI). While it is clear that the weekly payments are beneficial to recipients, workers receiving benefits have less incentive to engage in job search and accept job offers. We construct a job search activity index based on Google data which provides the first high-frequency, state-specific measure of job search activity. We demonstrate the validity of our measure by benchmarking it against the American Time Use Survey and the comScore Web-User Panel, and also by showing that it varies with hypothesized drivers of search activity. We test for search activity responses to policy shifts and changes in the distribution of unemployment benefit duration. We find that search activity is greater when a claimant's UI benefits near exhaustion. Furthermore, search activity responses to the passage of bills that increase unemployment benefits duration are negative but short-lived in most specifications. Using daily data, we estimate that an increase by 1% of the population of unemployed receiving additional benefits results in a decrease in aggregate search activity of 1.7% lasting only one week.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 45

Keywords: Job Search, Unemployment Insurance, Moral Hazard, Internet Search

JEL Classification: E24, E61, H53, J21, J64, J65, J68

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Date posted: April 17, 2011 ; Last revised: October 29, 2012

Suggested Citation

Baker, Scott R. and Fradkin, Andrey, What Drives Job Search? Evidence from Google Search Data (April 15, 2011). Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1811247 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1811247

Contact Information

Scott R. Baker (Contact Author)
Stanford University - Department of Economics ( email )
Stanford, CA 94305
United States
Andrey Fradkin
Stanford University - Department of Economics ( email )
Landau Economics Building
579 Serra Mall
Stanford, CA 94305-6072
United States
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