April 2018

IZA DP No. 11482: Immigrant Responses to Social Insurance Generosity

Immigrants from low‐income source countries tend to be underrepresented in employment and overrepresented in social insurance programs. Based on administrative data from Norway, we examine how these gaps reflect systematic differences in the impacts of social insurance benefits on work incentives. Drawing on a benefit formula reform of the temporary disability insurance program, we identify behavioral employment and earnings responses to changes in benefits, and find that responses are significantly larger for immigrants. Among female immigrant program participants, earnings of the male spouse also drop in response to more generous benefits. We uncover stronger behavioral responses among natives with characteristics similar to those of immigrants.