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April 1989, Vol. 112, No. 4
Unemployment insurance in the U.S. and Europe, 1973-83
Beatrice G. Reubens
The unemployment insurance systems of Western European countries have been subjected to recent strong pressures because of higher unemployment rates and prolonged spells of unemployment. There has been concern that traditional unemployment insurance programs may not be able to cope with the current composition of unemployment. This has led to the search for new approaches in some countries and efforts to curtail expenditures in others.
This article compares the unemployment insurance programs of the United States and five western European countries Austria, France, Germany, Great Britain, and Sweden. It discusses, among other subjects, the cost of the program, financing, the number of persons receiving benefits, benefit levels, and replacement ratios. In addition, the article outlines the steps taken by the countries to curtail rising unemployment insurance costs, reports the diverse views on the effects of unemployment insurance benefits on work incentives, and raises some questions for which additional research is needed. This study covers the 1973-83 period; two Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) studies for other years are briefly discussed for comparison purposes.
This excerpt is from an article published in the April 1989 issue of the Monthly Labor Review. The full text of the article is available in Adobe Acrobat's Portable Document Format (PDF). See How to view a PDF file for more information.
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