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Cream skimming in employment programmes for the disabled? Evidence from Sweden


  • Per Skedinger
  • Barbro Widerstedt


Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to analyse recruitment to sheltered employment for the disabled, with particular attention to cream skimming, i.e. whether the most able candidates are picked by programme organisers. Design/methodology/approach - In this paper recruitment practices and incentive structures at the state-owned Samhall company, Sweden's main provider of sheltered employment, are discussed. An econometric analysis is performed on a random sample of 10,000 unemployed individuals, exploring the quality of the data on disability and the determinants of recruitment to the company. The findings regarding recruitment are related to Samhall's objectives. Findings - The findings in this paper regarding cream skimming is mixed; the prioritised groups, i.e. individuals with intellectual or psychic disabilities, are more likely to be hired than some, but not all, disability groups. Individuals without disabilities tend to be recruited by the company, which suggests creaming and is contrary to the guidelines. Research limitations/implications - The paper sees that the fact that disability tends to be difficult to define should be taken into account when recruitment practices to employment programmes for the disabled are analysed. Practical implications - The paper found that objectives and screening procedures in employment programmes for the disabled should be assessed carefully in order to avoid excessive cream skimming. Originality/value - The paper shows that most studies on cream skimming do not consider programmes for the disabled, although the potential for harmful cream skimming may be larger than in mainstream programmes. Unlike previous studies the role of disability characteristics for recruitment is explicitly taken into account and these are related to programme objectives.

Suggested Citation

  • Per Skedinger & Barbro Widerstedt, 2007. "Cream skimming in employment programmes for the disabled? Evidence from Sweden," International Journal of Manpower, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 28(8), pages 694-714, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:eme:ijmpps:v:28:y:2007:i:8:p:694-714

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    Cited by:

    1. Per Johansson & Per Skedinger, 2009. "Misreporting in register data on disability status: evidence from the Swedish Public Employment Service," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 37(2), pages 411-434, October.
    2. Pierre Koning & C.J. Heinrich, 2009. "Cream-skimming, parking and other intended and unintended effects of performance-based contracting in social welfare services," CPB Discussion Paper 134, CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis.

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    Labour; Disabilities; Standards;


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