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Job-search periods for welfare applicants: Evidence from a randomized experiment

Journal article
Authors Nadine Ketel
Jonneke Bolhaar
Bas van der Klaauw
Published in American Economic Journal: Applied Economics
Volume 11
Issue 1
Pages 92-125
ISSN 1945-7782
Publication year 2018
Published at Department of Economics
Pages 92-125
Language en
Keywords job search, welfare-to-work, active labor-market policies, randomized experiment
Subject categories Economics


We combine a randomized experiment with administrative data to study the effects of mandatory job-search periods in the Dutch welfare system. Job-search periods postpone the first welfare-benefits payment and encourage applicants to start searching for jobs actively. Job-search periods substantially reduce benefits take up. The decline in benefits receipt is permanent, but fully compensated by increased earnings because of higher reemployment rates. We do not find detectable effects on health and crime outcomes, nor do we observe income declines for more vulnerable applicants. Our results suggest that job-search periods are an effective instrument for targeting benefits to welfare applicants.

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