Human Nature And Unemployment Insurance, An Incentive Not To Work?

The Concise Encyclopedia Of Economics

Unemployment

by Lawrence H. Summers

What Causes Long-Term Unemployment?

“To fully understand unemployment, we must consider the causes of recorded long-term unemployment. Empirical evidence shows that two causes are welfare payments and unemployment insurance…

…First, government assistance increases the measure of unemployment by prompting people who are not working to claim that they are looking for work even when they are not. The work-registration requirement for welfare recipients, for example, compels people who otherwise would not be considered part of the labor force to register as if they were a part of it…

…The second way government assistance programs contribute to long-term unemployment is by providing an incentive, and the means, not to work. Each unemployed person has a “reservation wage”—the minimum wage he or she insists on getting before accepting a job. Unemployment insurance and other social assistance programs increase that reservation wage, causing an unemployed person to remain unemployed longer.”  

Larry Summers former Harvard Academic Economist, and University President, now serves as  Director of the White House’s National Economic Council.

http://www.econlib.org/library/Enc/Unemployment.html

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