Friday, December 03, 2010

The other unemployment

Unemployment benefits are in the news, but we hear much less about other ways that people find to support themselves when not working. Here is a comparison (from this week's Economist) of various countries re how much they spend on disability, sickness and unemployment benefits. For the U.S., unemployment compensation is far smaller than the other two. There are similar patterns in most of the other countries. The comparisons of proportions allocated to the three programs between countries are a bit misleading because the U.S. has the largest defense budget. As a percent of total spending, we are tied with the UK and Australia (Denmark is close) in spite of our large defense budget.

Here (see Figure 1) are trend data for just the U.S. Unemployment compensation is cyclical, but disability payments are on a long-term upward trend.