Unemployment Insurance

unemployment insurance, insurance against loss of wages during the time that an able-bodied worker is involuntarily unemployed. The goal of such insurance is to provide a minimal livelihood to unemployed workers until they are once again employed. Compulsory unemployment insurance makes such protection legally obligatory for certain classes of workers under prescribed conditions. Voluntary unemployment insurance is maintained by private organizations sanctioned, encouraged, or subsidized by the state. The first attempts to establish unemployment insurance plans began toward the end of the 19th cent. in Germany, Italy, and Switzerland (see social security). Most Western European states adopted such plans in the early part of the 20th cent.: France, 1905; Great Britain, 1911; the Netherlands, 1916; Italy, 1919; and Germany, 1927. In the United States an unemployment insurance program, along with other welfare programs, was introduced by the Social Security Act of 1935. That act, amended many times, provides for a sliding scale of payroll taxes on industry. For example, employers whose records show that their business experiences little unemployment receive lower rates. The Employment and Training Administration in the U.S. Dept. of Labor is responsible for administering the law. Over the years Congress has extended the program to many workers initially not covered. By 1994 more than 96% of all workers were covered by unemployment insurance. Each state has its own unemployment insurance law and operates its own program.

See D. Nelson, Unemployment Insurance: The American Experience, 1915–1935 (1969); W. Vroman, Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund Adequacy in the 1990s (1990).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2018, The Columbia University Press.

Unemployment Insurance: Selected full-text books and articles

Unemployment Compensation throughout the World: A Comparative Analysis By Wayne Vroman; Vera Brusentsev W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, 2005
Solving the Reemployment Puzzle: From Research to Policy By Stephen A. Wandner W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, 2010
Reemployment Bonuses in the Unemployment Insurance System: Evidence from Three Field Experiments By Philip K. Robins; Robert G. Spiegelman W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, 2001
Economic Effects of the Unemployment Insurance Benefit By Fujita, Shigeru Business Review (Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia), Winter 2010
Why Unemployment Insurance Might Not Only Be Good for the Soul, It Might Also Be Good for the Economy By Altman, Morris Review of Social Economy, Vol. 62, No. 4, December 2004
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
The Economics of Imperfect Labor Markets By Tito Boeri; Jan Van Ours Princeton University Press, 2008
A Comprehensive Analysis of Sex and Race Inequities in Unemployment Insurance Benefits By Latimer, Melissa Journal of Sociology & Social Welfare, Vol. 30, No. 4, December 2003
Unemployment Insurance Reform: Elements of a Social Provisioning Approach By Peterson, Janice Journal of Economic Issues, Vol. 42, No. 2, June 2008
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