April 2008

IZA DP No. 3438: How Viable Are Unemployment Insurance Savings Accounts: Simulation Results for Slovenia

published in: Comparative Economic Studies, 2010, 52, 225–247

By simulating the working of the unemployment insurance savings accounts (UISAs) in Slovenia using a methodology similar to Feldstein and Altman (1998), the paper examines two questions: how viable is this system as an alternative to traditional unemployment insurance (UI) system, and how the redistribution of income changes if the UI system is replaced by UISAs. The simulations are performed on a representative sample of labor force participants, for which lifetime labor market histories are generated from administrative panel data. Simulations show that the UISA system is a viable alternative to a modest UI system, but that its viability is jeopardized under generous benefits. Under the modest regime (here identified with a post-1998 period, the period after the UI reform which strongly reduced the maximum potential duration of benefit, for most workers even by half) our calculations show that only one quarter of workers end their working life with negative cumulative balance and 43 percent ever experience a negative UISA balance; in contrast, under the generous regime (here identified with the pre-1998-reform period), 49 percent of workers end their working life with negative cumulative balance and 66 percent ever experience a negative balance. Moreover, under the modest benefit regime workers are better able to recover positive UISA balance. The simulations also show that the level of redistribution under the UISAs lags substantially behind the UI system, even though the version of the UISAs studied permits borrowing and hence allows for redistribution.