The Interaction between Research and Public Policy: The Case of Unemployment Insurance

Daniel S. Hamermesh

NBER Working Paper No. 771 (Also Reprint No. r0274)
Issued in September 1981
NBER Program(s):Labor Studies Program

This essay examines the role of economic research in affecting the recommendations of the National Commission of Unemployment Compensation, and the likely impacts of that Commission and economists' research findings on policy. Using a questionnaire addressed to Commission members, I find that most became quite aware of the results of research on the labor- market effects of unemployment insurance, with the degree of recognition proportional to the strength of the consensus among economists on a particular result; that the members had little awareness of the identity of particular economists who had done the research; and that, though the members claimed their recommendations were influenced importantly by research, that influence is difficult to detect in the Commission's Report. Because that Report goes against the tenor of current labor- market policy, its short-run impact will likely be small; and, because the focus of interest in policy will change over time, its long-term influence may not be great. Economic research, though, is shown to have had an immediate impact in three specific cases; and its long-run effect, by conditioning the policy discussion, has been and will likely be substantial.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w0771

Published: Eccles, Mary, Richard B. Freeman, and Daniel S. Hamermesh. "Economic Policy Assessment: The Labor Market." From The American Economic Review, Vol. 72, No. 2, pp. 226-232 AND 237-241, (May 1982). (NOTE: Reprint 274is based on BOTH W0878 and W0771.)

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