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An evaluation of the Swedish system of active labour market programmes in the 1990s

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  • Barbara Sianesi

    ()
    (Institute for Fiscal Studies)

Abstract

The low unemployment rates traditionally enjoyed by Sweden have often been attributed to the country's extensive system of active labour market programmes, which have thus frequently been regarded as a model for other countries to emulate. However, unemployment grew enormously in Sweden when the country was hit by a most severe recession in the early 1990s. This paper investigates how effective the Swedish labour market programmes have been in improving the opportunities of unemployed individuals over the last decade. The analyses look at the performance of the Swedish system in its entirety, combining all the programmes into one and focusing in particular on the interactions between the unemployment benefit system and the programme system. In fact, a labour market programme in Sweden effectively comes as a bundle of two conflicting components: it is intended to equip job-seekers with marketable skills which should improve their opportunities on the labour market, but at the same time it allows to renew eligibility to generous unemployment compensation, thus reinforcing the work disincentive associated with the unemployment insurance system. Using extensive information on the labour market history of more than 110,000 individuals followed for five years, the presence of short- and long-term programme effects is investigated in terms of a number of outcomes, including employment and unemployment benefit collection. More specifically, the analyses relate to how unemployed individuals joining a programme per-form, on average, compared to a hypothetical state where they would have waited longer job-searching in open unemployment. Overall, the impact of the programme system is found to have been mixed. Unemployed individuals who go sooner on a programme (compared to later or never), though remaining initially locked-in in the unemployment system for around six months, subsequently enjoy a higher probability of being in employment for up to at least five years. By contrast, the fact that programme participation en Titles individuals to renewed unemployment compensation creates strong incentives to remain within the official unemployment system. Individuals who have joined a programme are thus found to be more likely to return to benefit-compensated un- employment, to re-enter more programmes in the future, or to alternate between benefits and program participation over time than if they had searched longer as openly unemployed. The positive effect on employment does in fact arise because the programmes considerably reduce the chances of being unemployed outside the official unemployment system.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institute for Fiscal Studies in its series IFS Working Papers with number W02/01.

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Length: 47 pp
Date of creation: Jan 2002
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ifs:ifsewp:02/01

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Keywords: Active labour market programmes; evaluation;

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References

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  1. Anders Forslund & Alan B. Krueger, 1994. "An Evaluation of the Swedish Active Labor Market Policy: New and Received Wisdom," NBER Working Papers 4802, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  4. Lars Calmfors & Anders Forslund & Maria Hemström, 2002. "Does Active Labour Market Policy Work? Lessons from the Swedish Experiences," CESifo Working Paper Series 675, CESifo Group Munich.
  5. Heckman, James J. & Lalonde, Robert J. & Smith, Jeffrey A., 1999. "The economics and econometrics of active labor market programs," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 31, pages 1865-2097 Elsevier.
  6. Lundin, Martin & Skedinger, Per, 2006. "Decentralisation of active labour market policy: The case of Swedish local employment service committees," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(4-5), pages 775-798, May.
  7. Lechner, Michael, 1999. "Identification and Estimation of Causal Effects of Multiple Treatments Under the Conditional Independence Assumption," IZA Discussion Papers 91, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  8. Schmidt, Christoph M., 2000. "Arbeitsmarktpolitische Maßnahmen und ihre Evaluierung: eine Bestandsaufnahme," IZA Discussion Papers 207, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  9. Heckman, James J & Ichimura, Hidehiko & Todd, Petra E, 1997. "Matching as an Econometric Evaluation Estimator: Evidence from Evaluating a Job Training Programme," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 64(4), pages 605-54, October.
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  11. Michael Gerfin & Michael Lechner, 2002. "A Microeconometric Evaluation of the Active Labour Market Policy in Switzerland," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(482), pages 854-893, October.
  12. Carling, Kenneth & Edin, Per-Anders & Holmlund, Bertil & Jansson, Fredrik, 1995. "Unemployment Duration, Unemployment Benefits, and Labour Market Programmes in Sweden," CEPR Discussion Papers 1200, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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  14. Rajeev H. Dehejia & Sadek Wahba, 1998. "Causal Effects in Non-Experimental Studies: Re-Evaluating the Evaluation of Training Programs," NBER Working Papers 6586, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Manski, Charles F, 1990. "Nonparametric Bounds on Treatment Effects," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(2), pages 319-23, May.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Caliendo, Marco & Künn, Steffen, 2011. "Start-up subsidies for the unemployed: Long-term evidence and effect heterogeneity," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(3), pages 311-331.
  2. Paolo Naticchioni & Silvia Loriga, 2011. "Short and Long Term Evaluations of Public Employment Services in Italy," Applied Economics Quarterly (formerly: Konjunkturpolitik), Duncker & Humblot, Berlin, vol. 57(3), pages 201-229.
  3. Aassve, Arnstein & Davia, Maria A. & Iacovou, Maria, 2005. "Does leaving home make you poor? Evidence from 13 European countries," ISER Working Paper Series 2005-24, Institute for Social and Economic Research.
  4. Caliendo, Marco & Clement, Michel & Papies, Dominik & Scheel-Kopeinig, Sabine, 2008. "The Cost Impact of Spam Filters: Measuring the Effect of Information System Technologies in Organizations," IZA Discussion Papers 3755, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  5. Christian Dreger & Manuel Art�s & Rosina Moreno & Raúl Ramos & Jordi Suri�ach, 2007. "Study on the feasibility of a tool to measure the macroeconomic impact of structural reforms," European Economy - Economic Papers 272, Directorate General Economic and Monetary Affairs (DG ECFIN), European Commission.
  6. Barba Navaretti, Giorgio & Castellani, Davide, 2004. "Investments Abroad and Performance at Home: Evidence from Italian Multinationals," CEPR Discussion Papers 4284, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. R. Antonietti & D. Antonioli, 2007. "Production offshoring and the skill composition of Italian manufacturing firms A quasi-experimental analysis," Working Papers 593, Dipartimento Scienze Economiche, Universita' di Bologna.
  8. Bernhard, Sarah & Gartner, Hermann & Stephan, Gesine, 2008. "Wage Subsidies for Needy Job-Seekers and Their Effect on Individual Labour Market Outcomes after the German Reforms," IZA Discussion Papers 3772, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  9. Arimoto, Yutaka, 2011. "The impact of farmland readjustment and consolidation on structural adjustment: The case of Niigata, Japan," CEI Working Paper Series 2011-3, Center for Economic Institutions, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.
  10. Kari Hämäläinen & Virve Ollikainen, 2004. "Differential Effects of Active Labour Market Programmes in the Early Stages of Young People's Unemployment," Research Reports 115, Government Institute for Economic Research Finland (VATT).
  11. Dolton, Peter & Smith, Jeffrey A., 2011. "The Impact of the UK New Deal for Lone Parents on Benefit Receipt," IZA Discussion Papers 5491, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

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