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Are Classical Experiments Needed for Manpower Policy

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  • Gary Burtless
  • Larry L. Orr

Abstract

The critical element that distinguishes classical experiments from all other modes of analysis is the random assignment of treatment to enrollees in a study. This paper examines the major methodological advantages of random assignment for the purpose of estimating the effectiveness of current manpower policy. It also reviews the claimed methodological and ethical objections to experiments. The main valid objection to an experiment is neither methodological nor ethical, it is the experiment's cost in relation to that of nonexperimental methods of analysis. The authors argue that the offsetting gain from experimentation is the inherent reliability of experimental estimates of treatment effects. The paper offers a simple framework for deciding whether the improved reliability of treatment-effect estimates is worth the added cost of experimentation. It concludes with an assessment of the actual value of experiments for evaluating current manpower policies.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by University of Wisconsin Press in its journal Journal of Human Resources.

Volume (Year): 21 (1986)
Issue (Month): 4 ()
Pages: 606-639

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Handle: RePEc:uwp:jhriss:v:21:y:1986:i:4:p:606-639

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Web page: http://jhr.uwpress.org/

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Cited by:
  1. Guillaume Allegre, 2008. "L'expérimentation sociale des incitations financières à l'emploi : questions méthodologiques et leçons des expériences nord-américaines," Sciences Po publications, Sciences Po 2008-22, Sciences Po.
  2. Lechner, Michael, 1995. "Effects of continuous off-the-job training in East Germany after unification," ZEW Discussion Papers, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research 95-27, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
  3. Geert Ridder & Bart Cockx, 1999. "Social Employment of Welfare Recipients in Belgium: An Evaluation," Economics Working Paper Archive, The Johns Hopkins University,Department of Economics 415, The Johns Hopkins University,Department of Economics.
  4. Jeffrey Smith, 2000. "A Critical Survey of Empirical Methods for Evaluating Active Labor Market Policies," UWO Department of Economics Working Papers, University of Western Ontario, Department of Economics 20006, University of Western Ontario, Department of Economics.
  5. repec:spo:wpecon:info:hdl:2441/6148 is not listed on IDEAS
  6. Mona Said, 2003. "The Distribution of Gender and Public Sector Pay Premia: Evidence from the Egyptian Organised Sector," Working Papers, Department of Economics, SOAS, University of London, UK 132, Department of Economics, SOAS, University of London, UK.
  7. Robert J. LaLonde, 2003. "Employment and Training Programs," NBER Chapters, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, in: Means-Tested Transfer Programs in the United States, pages 517-586 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. repec:iab:iabmit:v:33:i:3:p:345-356 is not listed on IDEAS
  9. D. Greenberg & R. H. Meyer & M. Wiseman, . "Prying the lid from the black box: Plotting evaluation strategy for welfare employment and training programs," Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Papers, University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty 999-93, University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty.
  10. James J. Heckman & Jeffrey A. Smith, 1995. "Assessing the Case for Social Experiments," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 9(2), pages 85-110, Spring.
  11. James J. Heckman, 1989. "Choosing Among Alternative Nonexperimental Methods for Estimating the Impact of Social Programs: The Case of Manpower Training," NBER Working Papers 2861, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. A. Smith, Jeffrey & E. Todd, Petra, 2005. "Does matching overcome LaLonde's critique of nonexperimental estimators?," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 125(1-2), pages 305-353.
  13. Jochen Kluve & Christoph M. Schmidt, 2002. "Can training and employment subsidies combat European unemployment?," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 17(35), pages 409-448, October.
  14. Carol Harvey & Michael J. Camasso & Radha Jagannathan, 2000. "Evaluating Welfare Reform Waivers under Section 1115," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 14(4), pages 165-188, Fall.
  15. Smith, Jeffrey, 2000. "Evaluation aktiver Arbeitsmarktpolitik : Erfahrungen aus Nordamerika (Evaluating Avtive Labor Market Policies : Lessons from North America)," Mitteilungen aus der Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung, Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung (IAB), Nürnberg [Institute for Employment Research, Nuremberg, Germany], Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung (IAB), Nürnberg [Institute for Employment Research, Nuremberg, Germany], vol. 33(3), pages 345-356.
  16. R. Hujer & K.-O. Maurer & M. Wellner, 1997. "The Impact of Training on Unemployment Duration in West Germany -Combining a Discrete Hazard Rate Model with Matching Techniques-," Econometrics, EconWPA 9705001, EconWPA.

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