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Improved Targeting of Social Programs: An Application to a State Job Coaching Program for Adults with Intellectual Disabilities


  • McInnes, Melayne
  • Ozturk, Orgul
  • McDermott, Suzanne
  • Mann, Joshua


In a climate of flat or shrinking budgets, can programs reallocate existing resources to improve efficiency? We illustrate the potential for gains from redirecting resources using data from a state job coaching program that is designed to increase employment among adults with intellectual disabilities (ID). We model selection into the program and employment outcomes for participants and non-participants allowing for potentially heterogeneous response among observationally equivalent individuals. In our simulations, we find that state ID population employment can be increased from 10.7 percent to an upper bound of 16.7 percent by a program administrator who can allocate the job coaches to those with the most to gain. This is a 56 percent increase in the overall employment rate. While we assume that program administrators know more about individual program participants than we do, we can consider an administrator who has only the information available to the econometrician. In this case, targeting gains based only on observable characteristics would lead to 11.8 percent employment, which is an 11 percent increase in the overall employment rate. Surprisingly, a simple rule that only requires administrators to predict employment success when treated (based on observables) will achieve almost the same results.

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  • McInnes, Melayne & Ozturk, Orgul & McDermott, Suzanne & Mann, Joshua, 2013. "Improved Targeting of Social Programs: An Application to a State Job Coaching Program for Adults with Intellectual Disabilities," MPRA Paper 51392, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:51392

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Heckman, James J. & Vytlacil, Edward J., 2000. "The relationship between treatment parameters within a latent variable framework," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 66(1), pages 33-39, January.
    2. 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.
    3. Melayne Morgan McInnes & Orgul Demet Ozturk & Suzanne McDermott & Joshua R. Mann, 2010. "Does supported employment work?," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 29(3), pages 506-525.
    4. Aakvik, Arild & Heckman, James J. & Vytlacil, Edward J., 2005. "Estimating treatment effects for discrete outcomes when responses to treatment vary: an application to Norwegian vocational rehabilitation programs," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 125(1-2), pages 15-51.
    5. A. D. Roy, 1951. "Some Thoughts On The Distribution Of Earnings," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 3(2), pages 135-146.
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    More about this item


    Social program evaluation; Discrete-choice models; Policy simulations; Factor structure model;

    JEL classification:

    • C50 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric Modeling - - - General
    • H43 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Project Evaluation; Social Discount Rate
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity

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