Does Liquidity Substitute for Unemployment Insurance? Evidence from the Introduction of Home Equity Loans in Denmark” (Job Market Paper)

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Would the value of unemployment insurance fall if more people had a buffer stock of liquid savings? Using quasi-experimental evidence from the unexpected introduction of home equity loans in Denmark, where public unemployment insurance is voluntary, we find that liquidity and insurance are substitutes. A Danish reform provided less levered homeowners with more liquidity. Using a ten-year-long panel dataset drawn from administrative registries, we find that people who obtained access to extra liquidity were less likely to sign up for unemployment insurance. The effect is concentrated among those for whom insurance has negative expected value. In this group, extra liquidity worth one year’s income decreases insurance up-take by as much as a 0.3 percentage point fall in the risk of unemployment. Placebo tests for earlier years show no differential trends by leverage before the natural experiment. This implies that the liquidity of financial assets influences unemployment insurance uptake in the absence of public provision of insurance.

Last updated on 12/01/2014