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Evaluating Profiling as a Means of Allocating Government Services

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This paper considers the use of statistical profiling to allocate persons to alternative options within government programs, or to participation or non-participation in programs. Profiling has been used in the United States to allocate unemployment insurance (UI) claimants to reemployment services based on the predicted duration of their UI claim. We place profiling in the context of the choice among alternative assignment mechanisms. Different mechanisms have different costs and benefits – any one mechanism, whether profiling or something else, may not be optimal for every program. Within profiling systems, we highlight the need for clarity regarding the objective of the assignment mechanism, e.g. equity or efficiency, and we discuss situations in which equity and efficiency goals may conflict. In relation to UI profiling in the United States, we provide empirical evidence from the state of Kentucky on two important questions. First, we demonstrate that it is possible to effectively predict the duration of UI spells, but that effectively doing so requires using more covariates than many US states presently do. This finding is important because effective prediction of the profiling variable is a necessary but not sufficient condition for the success of a profiling system. Second, we show that the impact of reemployment services does not appear to vary with expected duration of the UI spell, indicating that UI profiling in Kentucky does not advance the goal of efficiency, though it may advance equity goals.

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  • Mark C. Berger & Dan Black & Jeffrey Smith, 2000. "Evaluating Profiling as a Means of Allocating Government Services," UWO Department of Economics Working Papers 200018, University of Western Ontario, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:uwo:uwowop:200018
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    File URL: http://economics.uwo.ca/research/department_working_papers_docs/wp2000/wp2000_18.pdf
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    1. Machin, Stephen & Manning, Alan, 1999. "The causes and consequences of longterm unemployment in Europe," Handbook of Labor Economics,in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 47, pages 3085-3139 Elsevier.
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    9. Dan A. Black & Jeffrey A. Smith & Mark C. Berger & Brett J. Noel, 2002. "Is the Threat of Reemployment Services More Effective than the Services Themselves? Experimental Evidence from the UI System," NBER Working Papers 8825, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Oscar Mitnik, 2008. "How do Training Programs Assign Participants to Training? Characterizing the Assignment Rules of Government Agencies for Welfare-to-Work Programs in California," Working Papers 0907, University of Miami, Department of Economics.
    2. Markus Frölich & Michael Lechner & Heidi Steiger, 2003. "Statistically Assisted Programme Selection - International Experiences and Potential Benefits for Switzerland," Swiss Journal of Economics and Statistics (SJES), Swiss Society of Economics and Statistics (SSES), vol. 139(III), pages 311-331, September.
    3. Lechner, Michael & Smith, Jeffrey, 2007. "What is the value added by caseworkers?," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(2), pages 135-151, April.
    4. Michael Rosholm & Michael Svarer & Bo Hammer, 2004. "A Danish Profiling System," Economics Working Papers 2004-13, Department of Economics and Business Economics, Aarhus University.
    5. John V. Pepper, 2002. "To Train or Not To Train: Optimal Treatment Assignment Rules Using Welfare-to-Work Experiments," Virginia Economics Online Papers 356, University of Virginia, Department of Economics.
    6. Dehejia, Rajeev H., 2005. "Program evaluation as a decision problem," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 125(1-2), pages 141-173.
    7. Djebbari, Habiba & Smith, Jeffrey, 2008. "Heterogeneous impacts in PROGRESA," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 145(1-2), pages 64-80, July.
    8. Smith, Jeffrey, 2002. "Introduction," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 9(2), pages 137-141, April.
    9. Staghøj, Jonas & Svarer, Michael & Rosholm, Michael, 2007. "A Statistical Programme Assignment Model," IZA Discussion Papers 3165, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    10. José Ferreira Machado & Juliana Guimarães & Pedro Portugal, 2006. "U.S. Unemployment Duration: Has Long Become Longer or Short Become Shorter?," Working Papers w200613, Banco de Portugal, Economics and Research Department.
    11. Stefanie Behncke & Markus Frölich & Michael Lechner, 2009. "Targeting Labour Market Programmes - Results from a Randomized Experiment," Swiss Journal of Economics and Statistics (SJES), Swiss Society of Economics and Statistics (SSES), vol. 145(III), pages 221-268, September.
    12. Markus Frölich, 2006. "Statistical treatment choice: an application to active labour market programmes," CeMMAP working papers CWP24/06, Centre for Microdata Methods and Practice, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
    13. Dan A. Black & Jeffrey A. Smith & Mark C. Berger & Brett J. Noel, 1999. "Is the Threat of Training More Effective Than Training Itself? Experimental Evidence from the UI System," UWO Department of Economics Working Papers 9913, University of Western Ontario, Department of Economics.
    14. John V. Pepper, 2003. "Using Experiments to Evaluate Performance Standards: What Do Welfare-to-Work Demonstrations Reveal to Welfare Reformers?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 38(4).
    15. Dan A. Black & Jeffrey A. Smith & Mark C. Berger & Brett J. Noel, 2002. "Is the Threat of Reemployment Services More Effective than the Services Themselves? Experimental Evidence from the UI System," NBER Working Papers 8825, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    16. Jeff Borland & Yi-Ping Tseng & Roger Wilkins, 2013. "Does Coordination of Welfare Services Delivery Make a Difference for Extremely Disadvantaged Jobseekers? Evidence from the ‘YP-super-4’ Trial," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 89(287), pages 469-489, December.
    17. O'Connell, Philip J. & McGuinness, Seamus & Kelly, Elish, 2010. "A Statistical Profiling Model of Long-Term Unemployment Risk in Ireland," Papers WP345, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).
    18. Bell, Stephen H. & Orr, Larry L., 2002. "Screening (and creaming?) applicants to job training programs: the AFDC homemaker-home health aide demonstrations," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 9(2), pages 279-301, April.
    19. Marios Michaelides & Peter Mueser, 2015. "The labor market effects of U.S. reemployment programs during the great recession," University of Cyprus Working Papers in Economics 08-2015, University of Cyprus Department of Economics.

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