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Private and Public Provision of Counseling to Job-Seekers: Evidence from a Large Controlled Experiment

  • Behaghel, Luc

    ()

    (Paris School of Economics)

  • Crépon, Bruno

    ()

    (CREST)

  • Gurgand, Marc

    ()

    (Paris School of Economics)

Contracting out public services to private firms has ambiguous effects when quality is imperfectly observable. Using a randomized experiment over a national sample in France, we compare the efficiency of the public employment service (PES) vs. private providers in delivering very similar job-search intensive counseling. The impact of each program is assessed with respect to the standard, low intensity track offered by the PES to the unemployed. We find that job-search assistance increases exit rates to employment by 15 to 35%. But the impact of the public program is about twice as large as compared to the private program, at least during the 6 first months after random assignment. We argue that the observed contract structure with the private providers has not overcome the underlying agency problem. We find no evidence of cream-skimming: rather, it seems that profit maximizing private providers have found it optimal to enroll as many job-seekers as they could, but to make minimum effort on the placement of some of them.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 6518.

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Length: 61 pages
Date of creation: Apr 2012
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, 2014, 6 (4), 142-174
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp6518
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  1. Card, David & Kluve, Jochen & Weber, Andrea, 2009. "Active Labor Market Policy Evaluations: A Meta-Analysis," IZA Discussion Papers 4002, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Ashenfelter, Orley & Ashmore, David & Deschenes, Olivier, 2000. "Do Unemployment Insurance Recipients Actively Seek Work? Evidence From Randomized Trials in Four U.S. States," IZA Discussion Papers 128, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. James J. Heckman & Carolyn Heinrich & Jeffrey Smith, 2002. "The Performance of Performance Standards," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 37(4), pages 778-811.
  4. Richard Blundell & Monica Costa Dias & Costas Meghir & John Van Reenen, 2004. "Evaluating the Employment Impact of a Mandatory Job Search Program," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 2(4), pages 569-606, 06.
  5. Koning, Pierre & Heinrich, Carolyn J., 2010. "Cream-Skimming, Parking and Other Intended and Unintended Effects of Performance-Based Contracting in Social Welfare Services," IZA Discussion Papers 4801, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  6. Bennmarker, Helge & Grönqvist, Erik & Öckert, Björn, 2009. "Effects of outsourcing employment services: evidence from a randomized experiment," Working Paper Series 2009:23, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.
  7. Jens Lundsgaard, 2002. "Competition and Efficiency in Publicly Funded Services," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 331, OECD Publishing.
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