Do Youth Employment Programs Improve Labor Market Outcomes? A Quantitative Review

  • Citation: Kluve, Jochen, Susana Puerto, David Robalino, Jose M. Romero, Friederike Rother, Jonathan Storeau, Felix Weidenkaff, and Mark Witte. “Do Youth Employment Programs Improve Labor Market Outcomes? A Quantitative Review.” World Development 114 (2019): 237–53.
    • Topics:
    • Business and Trade
    • Keywords:
    • youth employment
    • active labor market
    • policy impact
    • evaluations
    • systematic review
    • meta-analysis

Bringing young people into productive work is a key labor market challenge in both developing and developed economies, and a multitude of labor market interventions have been implemented to assist vulnerable youths. To assess whether these interventions have succeeded in improving young people’s labor market outcomes, this study systematically and quantitatively reviews 113 impact evaluations of youth employment programs worldwide. Of a total of 3105 effect estimates we extract from these studies, one-third are positive significant. The unconditional average effect size across all programs is small, both for employment-related outcomes (Hedges’ g = 0.05, SE = 0.02) and earnings-related outcomes (Hedges’ g = 0.04, SE = 0.02). We analyze correlates of success in a meta-regression framework. We find that (i) programs are more successful in middle- and low-income countries; (ii) the intervention type is less important than design and delivery; (iii) programs integrating multiple services are more successful; (iv) profiling of beneficiaries, individualized follow-up systems and incentives for services providers matter; and (v) impacts are of larger magnitude in the long-term. Some of these findings provide new and important insights about the design and delivery of interventions, whereas others confirm those of previous reviews. Ultimately, our findings provide practitioners with an improved evidence base about how certain design features contribute to successful youth employment programs in different contexts.

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