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Estimating the Effects of Length of Exposure to a Training Program: The Case of Job Corps

  • Alfonso Flores-Lagunes

    (University of Arizona and Princeton University)

  • Arturo Gonzalez

    (Public Policy Institute of California and IZA)

  • Todd C. Neumann

    (University of California, Merced)

Most of the literature on the evaluation of training programs focuses on the effect of participation on a particular outcome (e.g. earnings). The “treatment” is generally represented by a binary variable equal to one if participation in the program occurs, and equal to zero if no participation occurs. While the use of a binary treatment indicator is attractive for ease of interpretation and estimation, it treats all exposure the same. The extent of exposure to the treatment, however, is potentially important in determining the outcome; particularly in training programs where a main feature is the varying length of the training spells of participating individuals. In this paper, we illustrate how recently developed methods for the estimation of causal effects from continuous treatments can be used to learn about the consequences of heterogeneous lengths of enrollment in the evaluation of training programs. We apply these methods to data on Job Corps (JC), America’s largest and most comprehensive job training program for disadvantaged youth. The length of exposure is a significant source of heterogeneity in these data: while the average participation spell in JC is 28 weeks, its standard deviation and interdecile range are 27 and 62 weeks, respectively. We estimate average causal effects of different lengths of exposure to JC using the “generalized propensity score” under the assumption that the length of the individual’s JC spell is randomly assigned, conditional on a rich set of covariates. Finally, using this approach, we document important differences across different spell lengths and across three racial and ethnic groups of participants (blacks, whites and Hispanics) that help understand why the benefits these groups receive from JC are so disparate from estimates derived using traditional methods.

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Paper provided by Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section. in its series Working Papers with number 1042.

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Date of creation: Jun 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:pri:indrel:dsp01n583xt970
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  1. Hemlut Fryges & Joachim Wagner, 2007. "Exports and Productivity Growth – First Evidence from a Continuous Treatment Approach," Working Paper Series in Economics 49, University of Lüneburg, Institute of Economics.
  2. Flores-Lagunes, Alfonso & Gonzalez, Arturo & Neumann, Todd C., 2005. "Learning but Not Earning? The Value of Job Corps Training for Hispanic Youths," IZA Discussion Papers 1638, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. repec:mpr:mprres:1928 is not listed on IDEAS
  4. Rajeev H. Dehejia & Sadek Wahba, 1998. "Propensity Score Matching Methods for Non-experimental Causal Studies," NBER Working Papers 6829, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Hilary W. Hoynes & Marianne P Bitler & Jonah Gelbach, 2005. "What Mean Impacts Miss:Distributional Effects of Welfare Reform Experiments," Working Papers 531, University of California, Davis, Department of Economics.
  6. Hilary W. Hoynes & Marianne P Bitler & Jonah B. Gelbach, 2005. "Distributional Impacts of the Self-Sufficiency Project," Working Papers 530, University of California, Davis, Department of Economics.
  7. Kosuke Imai & David A. van Dyk, 2004. "Causal Inference With General Treatment Regimes: Generalizing the Propensity Score," Journal of the American Statistical Association, American Statistical Association, vol. 99, pages 854-866, January.
  8. Guido W. Imbens, 2003. "Nonparametric Estimation of Average Treatment Effects under Exogeneity: A Review," NBER Technical Working Papers 0294, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Gerfin, Michael & Lechner, Michael, 2000. "Microeconometric Evaluation of the Active Labour Market Policy in Switzerland," IZA Discussion Papers 154, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  10. Joshua D. Angrist & Guido W. Imbens, 1995. "Identification and Estimation of Local Average Treatment Effects," NBER Technical Working Papers 0118, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Lechner, Michael, 1999. "Identification and Estimation of Causal Effects of Multiple Treatments Under the Conditional Independence Assumption," IZA Discussion Papers 91, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  12. Peter Z. Schochet & John Burghardt & Steven Glazerman, 2001. "National Job Corps Study: The Impacts of Job Corps on Participants' Employment and Related Outcomes," Mathematica Policy Research Reports db6c4204b8e1408bb0c6289ec, Mathematica Policy Research.
  13. Peter Z. Schochet, 2001. "National Job Corps Study: Methodological Appendixes on the Impact Analysis," Mathematica Policy Research Reports c3abb7b819cd4bc5a09a865d6, Mathematica Policy Research.
  14. A. Smith, Jeffrey & E. Todd, Petra, 2005. "Does matching overcome LaLonde's critique of nonexperimental estimators?," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 125(1-2), pages 305-353.
  15. Jere R. Behrman & Yingmei Cheng & Petra E. Todd, 2004. "Evaluating Preschool Programs When Length of Exposure to the Program Varies: A Nonparametric Approach," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 86(1), pages 108-132, February.
  16. Heckman, James J & Smith, Jeffrey, 1997. "Making the Most Out of Programme Evaluations and Social Experiments: Accounting for Heterogeneity in Programme Impacts," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 64(4), pages 487-535, October.
  17. A. Gonzalez, 2000. "The acquisition and labor market value of four English skills: new evidence from NALS," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 18(3), pages 259-269, 07.
  18. McManus, Walter & Gould, William & Welch, Finis, 1983. "Earnings of Hispanic Men: The Role of English Language Proficiency," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 1(2), pages 101-30, April.
  19. Hoyt Bleakley & Aimee Chin, 2004. "Language Skills and Earnings: Evidence from Childhood Immigrants," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 86(2), pages 481-496, May.
  20. Michael Lechner, 2002. "Program Heterogeneity And Propensity Score Matching: An Application To The Evaluation Of Active Labor Market Policies," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 84(2), pages 205-220, May.
  21. Peter Schochet, 1998. "National Job Corps Study: Eligible Applicants' Perspectives on Job Corps Outreach and Admissions," Mathematica Policy Research Reports 7fe879b287a0438bb2f1bced8, Mathematica Policy Research.
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