Talent Discovery, Layoff Risk and Unemployment Insurance
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- Discussion papers (SAM) 
In talent-intensive jobs, workers’ performance reveals their quality. This enhances productivity and wages, but also increases layoff risk. If workers cannot resign from their jobs, firms can insure them via severance pay. If instead workers can resign, private insurance cannot be provided, and more risk-averse workers will choose less informative jobs. This lowers expected productivity and wages. Public unemployment insurance corrects this inefficiency, enhancing employment in talent-sensitive industries and investment in education by employees. The prediction that the generosity of unemployment insurance is positively correlated with the share of workers in talent-sensitive industries is consistent with international and U.S. evidence.