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Activation is not a panacea: active labour market policy, long-term unemployment and institutional complementarity



Evaluation studies of active labour market policy show different activation measures generate contradictory results. In the present study, we argue that these contradictory results are due to the fact that the outcomes of activation measures depend on other institutions. The outcome measure in this study is the long-term unemployment rate. Two labour market institutions are of special interest in this context: namely, employment protection and unemployment benefits. Both institutions, depending on their design, may either increase or decrease the effectiveness of active labour market policies in lowering long-term unemployment. Based on an analysis of macro-level data on 20 countries over a period of 16 years, our results show that employment protection strictness and unemployment benefit generosity interact with the way in which active labour market policies relate to long-term unemployment. Our results also indicate that, depending on the measure used, active labour market policies fit either in a flexible or in a coordinated labour market. This suggests that active labour market policies can adhere to both institutional logics, which are encapsulated in different types of measures.

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