The Consequences of Long Term Unemployment: Evidence from Matched Employer-Employee Data
It is well known that the long-term unemployed fare worse in the labor market than the short-term unemployed, but less clear why this is so. One potential explanation is that the long-term unemployed are “bad apples” who had poorer prospects from the outset of their spells (heterogeneity). Another is that these bad outcomes are a consequence of their extended unemployment (state dependence). We use Current Population Survey data on unemployed individuals linked to wage records for the same people to distinguish between these explanations. The rich information on work histories provided by the wage records allows us to control for individual heterogeneity that could be affecting post-unemployment labor market outcomes. Even with these controls in place, we find that unemployment duration has a strongly negative effect on the likelihood of subsequent employment. This finding is inconsistent with the “bad apple” (heterogeneity) explanation for why the long-term unemployed fare worse than the short-term unemployed. We also find that longer unemployment durations are associated with lower subsequent earnings, though this is mainly attributable to the long-term unemployed having a lower likelihood of subsequent employment rather than to their having lower earnings once a job is found.
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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w22665
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