“Counseling the unemployed: does it lower unemployment duration and recurrence?” by Marc GURGAND
Université catholique de Louvain
In July 2001, the French unemployment policies experienced an important reform. As a major input of this reform, the public unemployment agency (ANPE) revised its support policy to unemployed persons within the Programme d’Action Personnalisée (PAP). Individual follow-up became systematic and more frequent overall, and significantly larger amounts of job-search assistance services were provided. This reform departs from most foreign policies in that very intensive schemes are attributed to a rather modest share of the unemployed, whereas limited actual monitoring seems to have been taking place. In this study, we evaluate the effectiveness of the PAP services in raising the transition rate from unemployment to work and lowering recurrence into unemployment. We exploit an administrative database collected by the French unemployment agency that contains data on more than 500,000 individual unemployment spells and very detailed information on services that individuals actually received. The available timing of events allows identification of the causal effects of the schemes in the presence of selectivity on unobservables. We find that three out of the four main schemes evaluated are efficient in lowering both unemployment duration and recurrence, with a locking-in effect for some of them. However, the rather limited number of beneficiaries affects the aggregate impact of the program.