Increasing Youth Employment and Earnings
Effects vary between programmes and context
Background – Today’s labour market is a challenging arena for young people. Over 73 million youth are currently unemployed and many more are affected by vulnerable employment and working poverty. Youth remain highly susceptible to changing patterns in the world of work and experience slow and difficult transitions to stable jobs. What works to support them in the labour market? This is one of the most common and pressing questions posed by policymakers and practitioners today.
Methods – This systematic review addresses this question by synthesizing empirical evidence on the labour market outcomes of active labour market programmes (ALMPs) targeting youth worldwide. Eligible interventions comprised skills training such as technical and business skills, entrepreneurship promotion providing access to finance, employment services providing job-placement and job-search assistance, and subsized employment providing wage subsidies or public employment. Outcomes of interest included employment, earnings and business performance. Eligible studies included counterfactual-based impact evaluations conducted in low-, middle- or high-income countries. A comprehensive systematic search for relevant evidence across more than 70 sources, using search terms in English, French, German, Portuguese and Spanish, identified over 30,000 records that were screened. The search process was completed in January 2015. For the selected studies that met the review’s inclusion criteria, data were coded and effect sizes calculated. The analysis explores the interventions’ overall effectiveness and the roles that context, evaluation and programme design and implementation play in moderating impact.
Results – A total of 113 eligible impact evaluations were identified, encompassing a unique set of evaluation methods, interventions and geographical coverage. Meta-analysis methods were employed to synthesize the evidence, based on 2,259 imputed effect sizes. Overall, empirical results indicated positive effects of entrepreneurship promotion and skills training on employment and earnings. Effects of employment services and subsidised employment were generally small and non-significant. .We estimated bigger programme effects in low- and middle-income countries than in high-income countries, and in programmes targeting disadvantaged youth.