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Soft skills or hard cash ? the impact of training and wage subsidy programs on female youth employment in Jordan

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Listed:
  • Groh, Matthew
  • Krishnan, Nandini
  • McKenzie, David
  • Vishwanath, Tara

Abstract

Throughout the Middle East, unemployment rates of educated youth have been persistently high and female labor force participation, low. This paper studies the impact of a randomized experiment in Jordan designed to assist female community college graduates find employment. One randomly chosen group of graduates was given a voucher that would pay an employer a subsidy equivalent to the minimum wage for up to 6 months if they hired the graduate; a second group was invited to attend 45 hours of employability skills training designed to provide them with the soft skills employers say graduates often lack; a third group was offered both interventions; and the fourth group forms the control group. The analysis finds that the job voucher led to a 40 percentage point increase in employment in the short-run, but that most of this employment is not formal, and that the average effect is much smaller and no longer statistically significant 4 months after the voucher period has ended. The voucher does appear to have persistent impacts outside the capital, where it almost doubles the employment rate of graduates, but this appears likely to largely reflect displacement effects. Soft-skills training has no average impact on employment, although again there is a weakly significant impact outside the capital. The authors elicit the expectations of academics and development professionals to demonstrate that these findings are novel and unexpected. The results suggest that wage subsidies can help increase employment in the short term, but are not a panacea for the problems of high urban female youth unemployment.

Suggested Citation

  • Groh, Matthew & Krishnan, Nandini & McKenzie, David & Vishwanath, Tara, 2012. "Soft skills or hard cash ? the impact of training and wage subsidy programs on female youth employment in Jordan," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6141, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:6141
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Bruno Crépon & Esther Duflo & Marc Gurgand & Roland Rathelot & Philippe Zamora, 2013. "Do Labor Market Policies have Displacement Effects? Evidence from a Clustered Randomized Experiment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 128(2), pages 531-580.
    2. Pablo Ibarraran & Laura Ripani & Bibiana Taboada & Juan Villa & Brigida Garcia, 2014. "Life skills, employability and training for disadvantaged youth: Evidence from a randomized evaluation design," IZA Journal of Labor & Development, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 3(1), pages 1-24, December.
    3. Emanuela Galasso & Martin Ravallion & Agustin Salvia, 2004. "Assisting the Transition from Workfare to Work: A Randomized Experiment," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 58(1), pages 128-142, October.
    4. Heckman, James J. & Kautz, Tim, 2012. "Hard evidence on soft skills," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(4), pages 451-464.
    5. Jishnu Das & Quy-Toan Do & Jed Friedman & David McKenzie, 2008. "Mental Health Patterns and Consequences: Results from Survey Data in Five Developing Countries," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 23(1), pages 31-55, August.
    6. Suresh de Mel & David McKenzie & Christopher Woodruff, 2010. "Wage Subsidies for Microenterprises," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(2), pages 614-618, May.
    7. Brian Bell & Richard Blundell & John Reenen, 1999. "Getting the Unemployed Back to Work: The Role of Targeted Wage Subsidies," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 6(3), pages 339-360, August.
    8. Dubin, Jeffrey A. & Rivers, Douglas, 1993. "Experimental estimates of the impact of wage subsidies," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 56(1-2), pages 219-242, March.
    9. Pablo Ibarraran & Laura Ripani & Bibiana Taboada & Juan Villa & Brigida Garcia, 2014. "Life skills, employability and training for disadvantaged youth: Evidence from a randomized evaluation design," IZA Journal of Labor & Development, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 3(1), pages 1-24, December.
    10. repec:idb:brikps:publication-detail,7101.html?id=58726 is not listed on IDEAS
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Achyuta Adhvaryu & Namrata Kala & Anant Nyshadham, 2018. "The Skills to Pay the Bills: Returns to On-the-job Soft Skills Training," NBER Working Papers 24313, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Bandiera, Oriana. & Buehren, Niklas. & Burgess, Robin. & Goldstein, Markus. & Gulesci, Selim. & Rasul, Imran. & Sulaiman, Munshi., 2015. "Women’s economic empowerment in action : evidence from a randomized control trial in Africa," ILO Working Papers 994874053402676, International Labour Organization.
    3. Abebe, Girum & Caria, Stefano & Fafchamps, Marcel & Falco, Paolo & Franklin, Simon & Quinn, Simon, 2017. "Anonymity of distance? Job search and labour market exclusion in a growing African city," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 86573, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    4. Shubha Chakravarty & Mattias Lundberg & Plamen Nikolov & Juliane Zenker, 2017. "Vocational Training Programs and Youth Labor Market Outcomes: Evidence from Nepal," Working Papers 2017-056, Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group.
    5. Simon Franklin, 2015. "Location, search costs and youth unemployment: A randomized trial of transport subsidies in Ethiopia," CSAE Working Paper Series 2015-11, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
    6. Ashraf, Nava & Jack, B. Kelsey & Kamenica, Emir, 2013. "Information and subsidies: Complements or substitutes?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 88(C), pages 133-139.
    7. Rita Almeida & Larry Orr & David Robalino, 2014. "Wage subsidies in developing countries as a tool to build human capital: design and implementation issues," IZA Journal of Labor Policy, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 3(1), pages 1-24, December.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Tertiary Education; Labor Markets; Labor Policies; Primary Education; Access to Finance;

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