A major purpose of this essay is to provide an outline of the scope and nature of unemployment insurance (UI) programs in industrialized economies. This includes: (a) laying out their potential goals, including an analysis of the rationales for these goals; (b) summarizing the characteristics of their structure; and (c) presenting a summary of evidence on the programs'economic effects. Laying out the potential goals of the UI programs is crucial, since without goals, we have no basis against which to weigh the evidence of the programs'effects. Without a summary of program characteristics, there is no basis for comparing programs or for understanding the choices available to policymakers elsewhere. While summaries of the economic effects of UI programshave been provided elsewhere, linking them to specific policy choices is essential for appreciating their impacts on program goals. The second major purpose is to consider issues in applying UI programs to developing economies. The central question is the applicability of the institutions of UI in industrialized economies, and the evidence on their effects, to this different context. This paper includes a discussion on research issues that should be investigated in order to learn more about this question.