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Again on Unemployment Benefits and Paid Leave

Here’s a letter to the Wall Street Journal:


In “Economists vs. Common Sense” you question the credibility of research that allegedly shows that generous unemployment benefits do nothing to discourage unemployed workers from returning to work. Your questioning is wise. The economists who performed the research that you pan apparently have forgotten their economics.

A good bet is that many of these economists, as well as others who parade their findings as reason not to reduce unemployment benefits, are among the supporters of government efforts to expand paid family leave. How ironic. A chief justification for mandating paid family leave is the correct understanding that such leave increases the likelihood that workers who are ill, or who have sick family members, will take time off of work.

Whatever the merits or demerits of government offering generous unemployment benefits or of mandating paid family leave, because paid-leave advocates are correct that such leave increases workers’ likelihood of remaining home while being paid, it’s implausible to deny that the provision of generous unemployment benefits has a similar effect.

Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
Martha and Nelson Getchell Chair for the Study of Free Market Capitalism at the Mercatus Center
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA  22030