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Active Labor Market Programs: Employment Gain or Fiscal Drain?

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  • Brown, Alessio J. G.

    ()
    (IZA)

  • Koettl, Johannes

    ()
    (World Bank)

Abstract

This paper provides a new perspective by classifying active labor market programs (ALMPs) depending on their main objectives and their relevance and cost-effectiveness during normal times, during a crisis, and during recovery. We distinguish ALMPs that provide: (i) incentives for retaining employment, (ii) incentives for creating employment, (iii) incentives for seeking and keeping a job, (iv) incentives for human capital enhancement, and (v) improved labor market matching. Reviewing evidence from the literature, we discuss direct and indirect effects of various interventions, their cost-effectiveness, and draw lessons for transition and developing countries. The paper concludes by providing a systematic overview of how, why, when and to what extent specific ALMPs are effective. In particular, the paper shows that ALMPs retaining employment, like work sharing schemes, should be applied in severe recessions for a limited time period of time only. ALMPs creating employment, like hiring subsidies, perform much better on cost-effectiveness and strengthen the outsiders' position in the labor market, especially during recoveries. In-work benefits and public works are not very cost-efficient in terms of raising employment, but might be cost-efficient in reducing poverty and inequity. Policies readjusting distorted employment incentives, such as activation and sanction measures, have proven to provide cost-effective results during normal times.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 6880.

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Length: 48 pages
Date of creation: Sep 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp6880

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Keywords: active labor market programs; short work; subsidies; training; workfare; activation; sanctions; job search assistance; intermediation; counseling; cost-effectiveness;

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Cited by:
  1. Iva Tomic, 2012. "The Efficiency of the Matching Process: Exploring the Impact of Regional Employment Offices in Croatia," Working Papers 1204, The Institute of Economics, Zagreb.
  2. Boockmann, Bernhard & Osiander, Christopher & Stops, Michael & Verbeek, Hans, 2013. "Effekte von Vermittlerhandeln und Vermittlerstrategien im SGB II und SGB III (Pilotstudie) : Abschlussbericht an das IAB durch das Institut für Angewandte Wirtschaftsforschung e. V. (IAW), Tübingen," IAB-Forschungsbericht 201307, Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung (IAB), Nürnberg [Institute for Employment Research, Nuremberg, Germany].

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