Active Labor Market Policy Evaluations: A Meta-Analysis
48 Pages Posted: 12 Jul 2010 Last revised: 12 Mar 2021
Date Written: July 2010
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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