The Impact of Anti-COVID-19 Restrictions and Transitory Unemployment Insurance Policies on Unemployment in Russia
During the COVID-19 pandemic, transitory unemployment insurance policies substantially increased unemployment benefits and the number of eligible groups in Russia. The procedure for registering as unemployed was moved to an online platform. The present paper aims to distinguish the effect of anti-COVID-19 restrictions on unemployment from that of the transitory unemployment insurance policies.
Using 553,627 approved claims for unemployment benefits from the Russian Public Employment Service administrative records (June 2019–December 2020), monthly data on the number of individuals registered as unemployed are aggregated in a pseudo panel. A double-difference approach is employed to identify the effects of the social interaction intensity and teleworkability of the latest occupation on unemployment. The first is associated with a direct effect of anti-COVID-19 restrictions and the latter with the simplified application procedure.
The face-to-face intensity of the latest occupation did not lead to any increase in the number of unemployed persons as could be expected in response to anti-COVID-19 restrictions. Job teleworkability had two opposite effects on unemployment: it decreased individuals’ risk of job loss and increased their likelihood of claiming unemployment benefits. Surprisingly, however, in line with the typical response of the Russian labour market to downturns, the latter dominated. The largest response was found among men and individuals with primary education.
This study is the first to attempt to distinguish the effect of anti-COVID-19 restrictions from that of the transitory unemployment insurance policies on unemployment in Russia.