Job Market Paper

No-Fault Job Loss? Less Moral Hazard (with Geoffrey Schnorr)

Unemployment insurance (UI) eligibility requires a claimant to have lost their job through no fault of their own. Approximately 10% of claims are deemed ineligible solely on these grounds. Using the systematic variation in approval leniency rates across UI claims examiners in California from 2002 to 2019, we show that receiving any UI benefits causes 2-9 additional weeks of nonemployment. By comparing the fiscal externality due to the marginal claimant's behavioral response with the mechanical transfer to approved claimants, we find that our context's extensive margin disincentive effect is lower than nearly every published disincentive effect estimate based on intensive margin variation in replacement rate and potential benefit duration. Heterogeneity analysis shows these effects are smallest for lower-income claimants. We discuss implications for UI policy reforms depending on plausible values of consumption-smoothing benefits, administrative costs, and redistributive preferences.

Research in Progress

Skill Stability During Unemployment (with Andrew Johnston and Attila Lindner)

We document the evolution of earnings and skills for unemployed workers using a multi-year panel survey of newly unemployed German workers linked to administrative employment records. Both the reemployment hazard rate and reemployment earnings steadily fall with unemployment duration. Despite this, we find no decline in a wide range of cognitive and non-cognitive skills while workers remain unemployed. We replicate these patterns around unemployment onset for older workers in the United States using the Health and Retirement Survey. The results imply that skill depreciation is unlikely to be a major explanation for duration dependence.

Federal Government Pay Policies (with Martina Uccioli)

We scrape and digitize data on the usage of broad pay flexibility in the US federal government. Difference-in-differences analyses around either the introduction of broad location-based pay in the early 1990s or granular special pay rates for specific agency-location-occupation categories yield no effect on employee quits.

Employment Effects of Unemployment Insurance: A Meta-Analysis (with Peter Ganong)

The empirical literature on unemployment insurance (UI) robustly finds significant effects of UI benefit generosity on unemployment duration. We systematically collect estimates and contextual factors from over 70 studies to generate a consensus estimate and document important drivers of heterogeneity.

The Degree-Attainment and Labor-Market Effects of Reverse Transfer (with Aaron Goodman and Vod Vilfort)

We use linked administrative education and employment data from Colorado since 2010 to study the impact of reverse transfer, which allows students who did not complete a 4-year college degree to apply their credits towards a 2-year degree. Our selection on observables identification strategy leverages idiosyncratic variation in the transferability of courses across schools.