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Active Labor Market Policy Evaluations: A Meta-Analysis

  • David Card
  • Jochen Kluve
  • Andrea Weber

This paper presents a meta-analysis of recent microeconometric evaluations of active labor market policies. Our sample contains 199 separate "program estimates" - estimates of the impact of a particular program on a specific subgroup of participants - drawn from 97 studies conducted between 1995 and 2007. For about one-half of the sample we have both a short-term program estimate (for a one-year post-program horizon) and a medium- or long-term estimate (for 2 or 3 year horizons). We categorize the estimated post-program impacts as significantly positive, insignificant, or significantly negative. By this criterion we find that job search assistance programs are more likely to yield positive impacts, whereas public sector employment programs are less likely. Classroom and on-the-job training programs yield relatively positive impacts in the medium term, although in the short-term these programs often have insignificant or negative impacts. We also find that the outcome variable used to measure program impact matters. In particular, studies based on registered unemployment are more likely to yield positive program impacts than those based on other outcomes (like employment or earnings). On the other hand, neither the publication status of a study nor the use of a randomized design is related to the sign or significance of the corresponding program estimate. Finally, we use a subset of studies that focus on post-program employment to compare meta-analytic models for the "effect size" of a program estimate with models for the sign and significance of the estimated program effect. We find that the two approaches lead to very similar conclusions about the determinants of program impact.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 16173.

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Date of creation: Jul 2010
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Publication status: published as David Card & Jochen Kluve & Andrea Weber, 2010. "Active Labour Market Policy Evaluations: A Meta-Analysis," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 120(548), pages F452-F477, November.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16173
Note: LS
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  1. Jochen Kluve & Christoph M. Schmidt, 2002. "Can training and employment subsidies combat European unemployment?," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 17(35), pages 409-448, October.
  2. Bergemann, Annette & van den Berg, Gerard, 2007. "Active labor market policy effects for women in Europe - a survey," Working Paper Series 2007:3, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.
  3. David H. Greenberg & Charles Michalopoulos & Philip K. Robins, 2003. "A meta-analysis of government-sponsored training programs," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 57(1), pages 31-53, October.
  4. Lechner, Michael & Wunsch, Conny, 2006. "Active Labour Market Policy in East Germany: Waiting for the Economy to Take Off," CEPR Discussion Papers 5924, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. James Heckman & Hidehiko Ichimura & Jeffrey Smith & Petra Todd, 1998. "Characterizing Selection Bias Using Experimental Data," NBER Working Papers 6699, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. V. Joseph Hotz & Guido W. Imbens & Jacob A. Klerman, 2006. "Evaluating the Differential Effects of Alternative Welfare-to-Work Training Components: A Reanalysis of the California GAIN Program," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(3), pages 521-566, July.
  7. Imbens, Guido W. & Wooldridge, Jeffrey M., 2008. "Recent Developments in the Econometrics of Program Evaluation," IZA Discussion Papers 3640, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  8. Ashenfelter, Orley & Card, David, 1985. "Using the Longitudinal Structure of Earnings to Estimate the Effect of Training Programs," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 67(4), pages 648-60, November.
  9. Card, David & Chetty, Raj & Weber, Andrea, 2007. "The Spike at Benefit Exhaustion: Leaving the Unemployment System or Starting a New Job?," IZA Discussion Papers 2590, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  10. Biewen, Martin & Fitzenberger, Bernd & Osikominu, Aderonke & Waller, Marie, 2007. "Which Program for Whom? Evidence on the Comparative Effectiveness of Public Sponsored Training Programs in Germany," ZEW Discussion Papers 07-042, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
  11. Ashenfelter, Orley, 1987. "The case for evaluating training programs with randomized trials," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 6(4), pages 333-338, August.
  12. Michael Gerfin & Michael Lechner, 2002. "A Microeconometric Evaluation of the Active Labour Market Policy in Switzerland," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(482), pages 854-893, October.
  13. Kluve, Jochen, 2010. "The effectiveness of European active labor market programs," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(6), pages 904-918, December.
  14. Richardson, Katarina & van den Berg, Gerard J., 2002. "The effect of vocational employment training on the individual transition rate from unemployment to work," Working Paper Series 2002:8, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.
  15. Barbara Sianesi, 2004. "An Evaluation of the Swedish System of Active Labor Market Programs in the 1990s," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 86(1), pages 133-155, February.
  16. Jespersen, Svend T. & Munch, Jakob R. & Skipper, Lars, 2008. "Costs and benefits of Danish active labour market programmes," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(5), pages 859-884, October.
  17. Ashenfelter, Orley C, 1978. "Estimating the Effect of Training Programs on Earnings," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 60(1), pages 47-57, February.
  18. LaLonde, Robert J, 1986. "Evaluating the Econometric Evaluations of Training Programs with Experimental Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(4), pages 604-20, September.
  19. Heckman, James J. & Lalonde, Robert J. & Smith, Jeffrey A., 1999. "The economics and econometrics of active labor market programs," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 31, pages 1865-2097 Elsevier.
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