A Theory of Employment Guarantees: Contestability, Credibility and Distributional Concerns

41 Pages Posted: 11 Sep 2007

See all articles by Arnab K. Basu

Arnab K. Basu

College of William and Mary - Department of Economics

Nancy H. Chau

Cornell University - School of Applied Economics and Management; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Ravi Kanbur

Cornell University; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: August 2007

Abstract

Both raw intuition and past experience suggest that the success of an employment guarantee scheme (EGS) in safeguarding the welfare of the poor depends both on the wage it promises, and the ease with which any worker can gain access. An EGS is thus at once a wage guarantee and a rationing device. We chart the positive and normative limits of such an EGS as an efficiency improving and poverty alleviating policy reform in a canonical labor market setting. At its core, an EGS provides an aggregate, not just EGS, employment target. Given the target, the EGS wage and access can be fine-tuned to deliver outcomes ranging from a contestable labor market to a simple universal unemployment benefit. The credibility of any such target, however, is shown to be triggered endogenously by a host of factors: the distributional concerns of the planner, private sector productivity, the prevalence of market power and the need for public works. Paradoxically, the outcome with a planner who cares only about efficiency can be less efficient than the outcome with a planner whose social welfare function also gives weight to poverty!

Keywords: employment guarantees, employment targeting, credibility, distribution concern

JEL Classification: I38, J21, K31, O12

Suggested Citation

Basu, Arnab K. and Chau, Nancy H. and Kanbur, Ravi, A Theory of Employment Guarantees: Contestability, Credibility and Distributional Concerns (August 2007). IZA Discussion Paper No. 3002. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1012573

Arnab K. Basu

College of William and Mary - Department of Economics ( email )

Williamsburg, VA 23187-8795
United States
757-221-1318 (Phone)
757-221-1175 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://faculty.wm.edu/akbasu/

Nancy H. Chau (Contact Author)

Cornell University - School of Applied Economics and Management ( email )

Ithaca, NY 14853
United States
607-255-4463 (Phone)
607-255-9984 (Fax)

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Ravi Kanbur

Cornell University ( email )

301-J Warren Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853
United States
607-255-7966 (Phone)
607-255-9984 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.kanbur.dyson.cornell.edu

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

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