Are Sufficient Statistics Necessary? Nonparametric Measurement of Deadweight Loss from Unemployment Insurance
72 Pages Posted: 26 Feb 2019 Last revised: 19 May 2021
Date Written: February 2019
Central to the welfare analysis of income transfer programs is the deadweight loss associated with possible reforms. To aid analytical tractability, its measurement typically requires specifying a simplified model of behavior. We employ a complementary “decomposition” approach that compares the behavioral and mechanical components of a policy’s total impact on the government budget to study the deadweight loss of two unemployment insurance policies. Experimental and quasi-experimental estimates using state administrative data show that increasing the weekly benefit is more efficient (with a fiscal externality of 53 cents per dollar of mechanical transferred income) than reducing the program’s implicit earnings tax.
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