Earnings Supplement Project (ESP) – Employment Insurance and Family Response to Unemployment: Canadian Evidence From the SLID

May 2004


This working paper provides a first look at the role regular EI benefits play in spousal labour supply decisions when the main income earner experiences a job loss. Using longitudinal data from the Survey of Labour and Income Dynamics (SLID) for the period of 1993 to 2001, the authors show that while in general the main income earner’s eligibility for EI is found to have little impact on the spouse’s decision to seek employment or to work more, it does appear to have a significant impact when children are present in the household or when the job loss occurs for reasons that are by nature non-seasonal. This conclusion suggests that EI may be giving families greater flexibility in balancing their work and family responsibilities.