Empirical Economics

, Volume 45, Issue 3, pp 1089–1127 | Cite as

Vouchers and caseworkers in training programs for the unemployed

  • Ulf Rinne
  • Arne Uhlendorff
  • Zhong Zhao


This paper studies the role of vouchers and caseworkers in training programs for the unemployed. We explore the unique features of the Hartz reform in Germany which simultaneously introduced training vouchers and imposed more selective criteria on participants. This allows us to go beyond the standard approach when we estimate the treatment effects for the most important type of training. Next to assessing the overall impact of the reform on the training’s effectiveness, we isolate the impact induced by changes in the composition of program participants (selection effect) from the impact based on the introduction of vouchers and related institutional changes (institutional effect). Our results show a small positive overall impact of the reform. The decomposition suggests that the selection effect is, if at all, slightly negative, and that the introduction of the voucher and related institutional changes increased both employment and earnings of participants. It furthermore appears that our findings are driven by skilled participants.


Active labor market policy Program evaluation Matching Voucher Caseworker Training 

JEL Classification

J64 J68 H43 



We would like to thank the anonymous referees, Marton Csillag, Bernd Fitzenberger, Steffen Künn, Peter R. Mueser, Núria Rodríguez-Planas, Jeffrey A. Smith, Hilmar Schneider, Marc Schneider, and conference participants in Bonn, Kiel, London, Mannheim, Munich, Nuremberg, and Oslo for valuable discussions and helpful comments. We also thank infas and especially Doris Hess and Helmut Schröder for providing supplementary information about the reform under study. Arne Uhlendorff thanks DIW DC where part of this research was pursued. Zhong Zhao acknowledges financial support from the Capacity Building Project for the Economics Discipline Group at Beijing Municipal Universities (2010–2012). All remaining errors are our own.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)BonnGermany
  2. 2.University of MannheimMannheimGermany
  3. 3.IABNurembergGermany
  4. 4.DIWBerlinGermany
  5. 5.Renmin University of ChinaBeijingChina

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