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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Labour Economics, Volume 17, Issue 1, January 2010, Pages 180–187
Programme administration is a relatively neglected issue in the analysis of disincentive effects of unemployment benefit systems. We investigate this issue with a field experiment in Hungary involving random assignment of benefit claimants to treatment and control groups. Treatment increases the monitoring of claims — claimants make more frequent visits to the employment office and face questioning about their search behaviour. Treatment has quite a large effect on durations on benefit of women aged 30 and over, while we find no effect for younger women or men.
Much of public economics does not consider the details of the administration of benefit programmes. The focus is on conditions for qualification, levels of payment, and lengths of entitlement. But how a programme is delivered in practice may be critical for its impact on individuals' behaviour. In the case of unemployment benefits, programme administration has been argued to be of crucial importance in determining the extent to which generous benefit systems actually influence unemployment in OECD countries (Nickell et al., 2005). However, the empirical evidence on the impact of benefit administration on getting people back to work is still limited. We add to knowledge by evaluating experimentally a simple change in administration of unemployment insurance (UI) that has the potential for a substantial impact on unemployment duration. Our field experiment uses a randomised control trial.1 The experiment was conducted in Hungary in 2003. The absence of open unemployment in planned economies meant that income support for people searching for work in Central and Eastern Europe did not exist prior to the 1990s. The debate about the behavioural impact of the new benefit systems has been considerable but, as elsewhere, has focused on levels and lengths of entitlements.2 As economies contracted in the early 1990s, the administration of benefits concentrated on delivery of payments. The subsequent recovery, and hence greater availability of jobs, prompts more consideration of benefit administration and the monitoring of job search activity. Section 2 provides background to our experiment and describes its design. Monitoring of claims prior to the experiment was light – and lower than in the 1990s. Treatment in the experiment increased the monitoring of claims – claimants made more frequent visits to the employment office and faced questioning about their search behaviour. Randomisation was achieved by assigning claimants to treatment or control on the basis of date of birth. Section 3 reports results which show marked differences between the sexes in the effect of treatment on benefit duration and outflows to employment. Treatment has quite a large effect on women aged 30 and over, while we typically find no effect for younger women or for men. Section 4 interprets this finding and Section 5 draws conclusions.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
Programme administration is a relatively neglected issue in the analysis of disincentive effects of unemployment benefit systems in OECD countries, especially outside the USA. We have investigated its impact with a field experiment with randomised assignment, conducted in Hungary. The treatment, involving more frequent visits to local employment offices and questions about job search activity, seems to have had an effect only for women aged 30 or over (an effect not determined with great precision). The experiment, and our investigation of institutional details of employment office practices in preparation for it, suggest that the Hungarian authorities were right to take issues of benefit administration more seriously — as they have done subsequently (although it is not the only aspect of unemployment benefit that is worthy of attention, with issues of coverage also prominent). The finding of a greater impact for women has support in some other studies. But the evidence is scanty and we suggest that future research on the effects of benefit administration – whether in the laboratory or in the field – pays more attention to gender differences. Our own evidence for Hungary relates to a specific group of claimants in terms of employment histories who were all receiving UI in the early part of their unemployment spells. The administration of means-tested assistance benefit, which is typically received much later in a spell of unemployment, needs to be investigated further, something true in many other countries as well.