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Labor Market Effects of Adult Education Vouchers: Evidence from a Randomized Field Experiment


  • Dolores Messer

    (University of Bern, Switzerland)

  • Guido Schwerdt

    () (Ifo Institute for Economic Research and CESifo, Munich, Germany)

  • Ludger Woessmann

    () (University of Munich, Ifo Institute for Economic Research, CESifo)

  • Stefan C. Wolter

    () (Swiss Coordination Centre for Research in Education, University of Bern, CESifo, IZA; University of Bern, Centre for Research in Economics of Education,)


Lifelong learning is often promoted in ageing societies, but little is known about its returns or governmentsÕ ability to advance it. This paper evaluates the effects of a large-scale randomized field experiment issuing vouchers for adult education in Switzerland. We find no significant average effects of voucher-induced adult education on earnings, employment, and subsequent education one year after treatment. But effects are heterogeneous: Low-education individuals are most likely to profit from adult education, but least likely to use the voucher. The findings cast doubt on the effectiveness of existing unrestricted voucher programs in promoting labor market outcomes through adult education.

Suggested Citation

  • Dolores Messer & Guido Schwerdt & Ludger Woessmann & Stefan C. Wolter, 2013. "Labor Market Effects of Adult Education Vouchers: Evidence from a Randomized Field Experiment," Economics of Education Working Paper Series 0094, University of Zurich, Department of Business Administration (IBW).
  • Handle: RePEc:iso:educat:0094

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Bergemann, Annette & van den Berg, Gerard J., 2008. "From Giving Birth to Paid Labor: The Effects of Adult Education for Prime-Aged Mothers," IZA Discussion Papers 3600, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

    More about this item


    Field experiment; voucher; adult education; LATE; Switzerland;

    JEL classification:

    • I22 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Educational Finance; Financial Aid
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • H43 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Project Evaluation; Social Discount Rate
    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • M53 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Personnel Economics - - - Training

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