Universal Basic Income versus Unemployment Insurance

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IZA Seminar

Place: Schaumburg-Lippe-Str. 9, 53113 Bonn

Date: 03.06.2014, 12:15 - 13:30


Presentation by 

Christian Zimmermann (Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis)


In this paper we compare the welfare effects of unemployment insurance (UI) with an universal basic income (UBI) system in an economy with idiosyncratic shocks to employment. Both policies provide a safety net in the face of idiosyncratic shocks. While the unemployment insurance program should do a better job at protecting the unemployed, it suffers from moral hazard and substantial monitoring costs, which may threaten its usefulness. The universal basic income, which is simpler to manage and immune to moral hazard, may represent an interesting alternative in this context. We work within a dynamic equilibrium model calibrated to the United States in 1990 and in 2011, and provide new results for the US economy and for the comparison between UI and UBI.

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