I present a model of optimal contracts between firms and workers, under limited commitment and with worker savings. In the model, firms provide insurance against unemployment through targeting a frontloaded path of wages which encourages wealth accumulation. I provide analytical results characterising the wage and savings schedules and the path of consumption during employment and unemployment. I then consider how unemployment benefits affect risk sharing through private markets. I find that benefits should be frontloaded; the government has the incentive to drive the allocation to the point where the firm’s participation constraint binds. At this point wages are equal to productivity in every period, wealth exceeds the buffer stock level, and consumption and savings drop over time. The drop in the level of consumption during unemployment is mitigated. Finally, I compare the optimal contract model to the standard heterogeneous agent model whereby wealth is utilized for self-insurance purposes. I show that the two models are equivalent under the optimal UI policy.
The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics publishes significant research and scholarship in theoretical and applied macroeconomics. The range of topics includes business cycle research, economic growth, and monetary economics, as well as topics drawn from the substantial areas of overlap between macroeconomics and international economics, labor economics, finance, development economics, political economy, public economics, econometric theory.