Stephen A. Woodbury

Stephen A. Woodbury Senior Economist

Steve Woodbury’s research interests are in the fields of social insurance and income security policies. He is currently conducting research on financing unemployment insurance (with Wayne Vroman and Chris O’Leary) and on the long-term effects of reemployment programs (with Marta Lachowska and Merve Meral). He is a Professor of Economics at Michigan State University, where he has taught since 1982. During 2014–2015, he is on leave at Princeton University, where he is a Visiting Scholar in the Industrial Relations Section and a Visiting Professor in the Department of Economics.

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Research Focus: Unemployment Insurance

Woodbury is currently working on a U.S. Department of Labor study (with Wayne Vroman and Chris O’Leary) to develop alternative approaches for financing unemployment insurance. The impetus for the project is the widespread insolvency of state UI trust funds following the Great Recession, and a main focus of the project is to understand how different methods of setting and experience rating UI payroll taxes might have reduced the number of state trust funds that became insolvent. Recent publications related to this project:
  • Financing Unemployment Insurance,” with Wayne Vroman. National Tax Journal 67 (March 2014): 253–268.
  • Unemployment Insurance.” In The Oxford Handbook of U.S. Social Policy, edited by Daniel Béland, Christopher Howard, and Kimberly J. Morgan. New York: Oxford University Press. In press.

Research Focus: Long-term Effects of Reemployment Policies

Active work search has been a central requirement for unemployment insurance (UI) recipients in the United States since the 1930s, and job search assistance (JSA) for UI claimants with a high likelihood of exhausting benefits has been mandatory since 1996. Little is known about the long-term effects of either of these policies, and nothing is known about the effects of JSA on workers who actually participate. Marta Lachowska, Merve Meral, and I are using ten years of UI administrative wage records linked to data from randomized trials to investigate the effects of both the work search requirement and JSA on long-term labor market outcomes. Working papers are forthcoming.

Research Focus: Health Insurance & Labor Markets

Employer-provided health insurance continues to be a central part of compensation and has important implications for labor markets and workers’ well-being. Recent publications: