Access Bias in the Swiss Labor Market

Thursday, 14 July 2016: 17:00
Location: Hörsaal 11 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Daniel AUER, IDHEAP Lausanne & nccr - on the move, Switzerland
Flavia FOSSATI, University of Lausanne, Switzerland
Active Labor Market Policies (ALMP) play an important role in the attempt of most industrialized countries to (re-) integrate unemployed people into labor markets. In particular for people who face disadvantages in the job market, such as low-skilled workers or migrants, ALMPs should increase the success in finding a new job.
However, by using a complete registry dataset of all unemployed in Switzerland in 2014 we identify, first, biased access to ALMPs for particular disadvantaged groups. That is, responsible institutions in Switzerland, predominantly the regional job placement centers, discriminate people against accessing ALMPs in the sense that unemployed with a migration background or other labor market-related disadvantages have a lower probability of attending a public measure than others. What is more, disadvantaged people usually attend shorter and less costly measures, which raises the suspicion of an ``alibi policy''. This finding is particularly striking, since ALMPs as ``enabling interventions'' were initially tailored to ease the labor market integration for exactly these groups.
Second, we find that the degree of institutional discrimination in terms of an access bias differs between the twenty-six Swiss cantons and is even absent in some of them. Although the legal framework for active labor market measures is relatively coherent in Switzerland, the cantons enjoy some freedom in their assignment policies due to their role as the central subnational jurisdictions. In a subsequent effort, we try to investigate potential underlying mechanisms that could cause these differences, such as public sentiments towards migration or budgetary constraints as well as the overall economic environment.
In sum, our findings question whether active labor market policies can life up to their intended goal as an important integrative tool for disadvantaged groups, since access to ALMPs is not entirely driven by individual- and group specific supportive needs of the unemployed.