January 2014

IZA DP No. 7913: Unemployment Insurance and Underemployment

Anna Godoy, Knut Røed

revised version published in: Labour, 2016, 30 (2), 158–179

Should unemployment insurance (UI) systems provide coverage for underemployed job seekers? Based on a statistical analysis of Norwegian unemployment spells, we conclude that the answer to this question is yes. Allowing insured job seekers to retain partial UI benefits during periods of insufficient part-time work not only reduces UI expenditures during the part-time work period; it also unambiguously reduces the time until a regular self-supporting job is found. Probable explanations are that even small temporary part-time jobs provide access to useful vacancy-information and that such jobs are used by employers as a screening device when hiring from the unemployment pool.