失业网:www.shiyew.com 时间:2010-08-19 01:10来源:新浪作者:秩名点击:

  To most thoughtful people, unemployment benefit embodies a painful trade-off. It's the mark of a civilised society, clubbing together to provide assistance to those in need. It is also, regrettably, an incentive to remain unemployed. At its worst, unemployment benefit pays people to watch daytime television; it is particularly pernicious if the skills of the jobless decay, and unemployment becomes unemployability. Yet, at its best, it is a life-saver.


  In balancing these two effects, it's hardly surprising that different societies have adopted very different systems. According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, member governments spent an average of 0.75 per cent of gross domestic product on unemployment benefits in 2006. France spent nearly twice this sum, and Germany almost three times as much, while the US spent a third of the average, and the UK just over a quarter. Germany spent more than 10 times as much as the UK, relative to GDP.

  在平衡这两种效应时,不同的社会采取了截然不同的做法,这几乎不令人惊讶。根据经济合作与发展组织(OECD)的数据,2006年,各成员国政府用在失业救济上的平均花费占国内生产总值(GDP)的0.75%。法国的比例几乎是这个数字的两倍,德国将近三倍,而美国是平均数字的三分之一,英国仅四分之一 强。德国失业救济金占GDP的比例,是英国的10倍以上。

  Paying people to stay out of work is an example of that increasingly familiar phenomenon, “moral hazard”, but moral hazard can be more fearsome in the theorist's imagination than it is in reality. Does unemployment benefit really encourage people to duck work? Unfortunately, the evidence suggests that it does: increases in benefits have repeatedly been linked with longer periods between jobs.


  But new research from Raj Chetty, a young Berkeley economist, suggests that moral hazard may not be why more generous benefits seem to lead to more unemployment. Chetty realised that unemployment benefit does not merely pay people to stay out of work; it also protects them from having to rush into an unsuitable job. It is nothing to celebrate if unemployed engineers cannot afford to spend three months finding a job for which they are qualified, but are forced to work as estate agents to put food on the table. A longer gap between jobs is sometimes preferable.

  但是,加州大学伯克利分校年轻的经济学家拉吉?切迪(Raj Chetty)的最新研究显示,道德风险可能并非更慷慨的失业救济导致更多失业的原因。切迪认为,失业救济不仅为失业者提供了收入,同时使他们免于匆忙从事一份不合适自己的工作。如果失业的工程师花不起3个月的时间寻找称职的工作,而是被迫去当一名房地产经纪人来维持生计,那也没有什么值得庆贺的。在某些 情况下,两次就业之间的间隔时期延长是可取的。

  This is an interesting theory, but distinguishing between moral hazard and the effect of having some cash to hand is tough. Chetty looked at sharp breaks in the unemployment insurance rules in the US, comparing one state's rules with another's, or examining moments when the rules changed. One suggestive finding is that when unemployment insurance becomes more generous, not everybody lingers on benefits. The median job-loser in the US has $200 when he loses his job and is unlikely to be able to borrow much, but some people have plenty of money in the bank when they find themselves unemployed. Chetty found that those with savings do not take any longer to find a job when paid more generous benefits, while those with little in the kitty when they lose their jobs do. This suggests that those without their own cash reserves are using unemployment benefits to buy themselves time to find the right job.

  这是一个有趣的理论,但是将道德风险与手头有一些现金可花的效应区别开相当困难。切迪研究了美国失业保险制度的明显改变,将各州的制度进行比较,或研究制 度改变时的状况。一个具有提示性的发现是:当失业救济金增加时,并非所有人都对此留恋不舍。美国失业者的救济金中值为200美元,他们不太可能借到很多 钱,但有些人失业时,在银行有大量的存款。切迪发现,那些有存款的人在救济金更高的时候,不愿意失业太长时间,而那些没有多少存款的人,则愿意等上更长的 时间。这表明,那些自己没有现金储备的人正利用失业救济,让自己有充足的时间去寻找合适的工作。

  Of course, there may be many differences between people with savings and those without, so this merely suggests that Chetty is on to something. But there are other clues - for instance, Chetty and two colleagues looked at the system in Austria, where severance pay is due to anyone employed for more than three years. By looking at - for example - a factory closure in which lots of staff are fired simultaneously, they could treat severance pay almost as a randomised experiment. Those lucky enough to get severance pay spent more time looking for a new job, despite the fact that severance pay provides no direct incentive to stay out of work.

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