Unemployment insurance policies are multidimensional objects, with variable waiting periods, eligibility duration, benefit levels, and asset tests, making intertemporal or international comparisons very difficult. Furthermore, labor market conditions, such as the likelihood and duration of unemployment, matter when assessing the generosity of different policies. In this article, we develop a new methodology to measure the generosity of unemployment insurance programs with a single metric. We build a first model with all characteristics of the complex unemployment insurance policy. Our model features heterogeneous agents that are liquidity constrained but can self-insure. We then build a second model, similar in all aspects but one: the unemployment insurance policy is one-dimensional (no waiting periods, eligibility limits, or asset tests, but constant benefits). We then determine which level of benefits in this second model makes society indifferent between both policies. We apply this measurement strategy to the unemployment insurance program of the United Kingdom.
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