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Comprehensive education or vocational training for the unemployed?

Listed author(s):
  • Anders Stenberg

Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to evaluate the effects of comprehensive education as compared with vocational training by using Swedish data on a large sample of unemployed individuals aged 25 to 55. Design/methodology/approach - The Adult Education Initiative (AEI) in Sweden was introduced in the autumn of 1997 and generated a massive expansion of subsidized adult comprehensive education. Participants in the vocational part of Labour Market Training (LMT) are used as a comparison group. The relative program effects are obtained by way of OLS fixed effects estimates, using register data of annual wage earnings from 1991 to 2003. Findings - There are weaker earnings effects of comprehensive education relative to vocational training. However, insignificant coefficient results are obtained for individuals aged 43-55 and also for females who prior to enrolment had experienced two-year upper secondary schooling or resided in a municipality associated with a low level of average educational attainment. Research limitations/implications - Identification of true underlying effects rely on fixed effects estimates. Using non-experimental data, one would ideally have access to an instrumental variable, which could explain program choice without being correlated with wage earnings. Practical implications - The results add to our knowledge on the relative average returns to general and specific human capital accumulation. In this specific case, more careful targeting of participants in the AEI could have improved the relative efficiency of the program. Originality/value - This study offers guidance to labour market policy makers on how an appropriate mix is attained between vocational training and comprehensive education.

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Article provided by Emerald Group Publishing in its journal International Journal of Manpower.

Volume (Year): 28 (2007)
Issue (Month): 1 (April)
Pages: 42-61

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Handle: RePEc:eme:ijmpps:v:28:y:2007:i:1:p:42-61
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  1. Duane E. Leigh & Andrew M. Gill, 1997. "Labor Market Returns to Community Colleges: Evidence for Returning Adults," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 32(2), pages 334-353.
  2. Regner, Hakan, 2002. "A nonexperimental evaluation of training programs for the unemployed in Sweden," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 9(2), pages 187-206, April.
  3. Louis G. Jacobson & Robert J. LaLonde & Daniel G. Sullivan, 1997. "The return from community college schooling for displaced workers," Working Paper Series, Macroeconomic Issues WP-97-16, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  4. Albrecht, James & van den Berg, Gerard J & Vroman, Susan, 2004. "The knowledge lift: The Swedish adult education program that aimed to eliminate low worker skill levels," Working Paper Series 2004:17, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.
  5. Anders Stenberg, 2005. "Comprehensive Education for the Unemployed - Evaluating the Effects on Unemployment of the Adult Education Initiative in Sweden," LABOUR, CEIS, vol. 19(1), pages 123-146, 03.
  6. Stenberg, Anders & Westerlund, Olle, 2008. "Does comprehensive education work for the long-term unemployed," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(1), pages 54-67, February.
  7. Andrew Jenkins & Anna Vignoles & Alison Wolf & Fernando Galindo-Rueda, 2003. "The determinants and labour market effects of lifelong learning," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 35(16), pages 1711-1721.
  8. Larsson, Laura, 2000. "Evaluation of Swedish youth labour market programmes," Working Paper Series 2000:1, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.
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