An Assessment of the Youth Employment Inventory and Implications for Germany’s Development Policy
Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ)
- This study aims to provide empirical evidence for informed policy decisions by analysing the Youth Employment Inventory (YEI). The YEI is an internet-based databank created to improve the basis for evidence-based policy making. It is a worldwide stock-taking exercise of employment-related projects for youth documenting program design, implementation and results. As of May 2014, it includes 730 projects in 110 countries.
- A descriptive analysis reveals that 82 per cent of the interventions in the YEI involve skills training. 66 per cent of the interventions were implemented in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA countries) and in Sub-Saharan Africa. While at least some kind of evaluation is available for every intervention, for 48 per cent of the interventions just a basic descriptive evaluation has been performed. Accordingly, there is not enough evidence to make an assessment for 73 per cent of interventions in the YEI.
- When analyzing interventions with a rigorous evaluation and conclusive results in a meta-analysis, we confirm many previous findings in the literature. For example, we find that youth employment measures are more effective in developing countries than in developed countries. But in contrast to previous studies, we detect some heterogeneity across categories of intervention as employment services outperform other measures. Moreover, we find that combined measures do not outperform programs that include only one type of intervention. Integration thus appears per se not as a guarantee of success. Finally, program characteristics are not correlated differently with a positive impact than with a negative or zero impact.
- We complement the quantitative analysis by a qualitative analysis as a significant number of interventions in the YEI have not (yet) been rigorously evaluated with respect to their impacts. Indeed, we find substantial differences between interventions that have been rigorously evaluated and those that have not. For example, the regional composition is rather different. Additional differences exist with respect to targeting and types of intervention. We thus conclude that YEI’s potential for evidence-based policy making could be further increased by rigorously evaluating a larger share of interventions.
- In a next step, we discuss our findings against the background of the current setup of Germany’s development policy to derive recommendations for potential change. Germany’s development policy currently adopts an integrated, three-dimensional approach aimed at integrating three key dimensions to promote youth employment. Because important insights have already been incorporated in this setup, we conclude that major changes are not needed. However, some general principles should be thoroughly and consistently implemented throughout Germany’s development policy. For example, there should be a strict orientation with respect to program effectiveness as higher spending levels do not necessarily imply higher effectiveness or larger impact. Our results also highlight the fact that interventions should always be chosen carefully and context-specifically. It does not seem sufficient to simply design and implement interventions that are combined, integrated and multi-dimensional. Effective delivery, implementation and governance are crucial elements in this context, too.
- In addition, we discuss selected case studies to illustrate “best practices” and more practical implications for development policy. The interventions were selected on the basis of their ability to exemplify our previous findings. While it may be argued that the selected projects are not particularly outstanding interventions, each of the projects involves design features that are worth considering. For example, the formation of groups to exert social pressure on their members proved conducive for properly using unconditional cash transfers. On the other hand, social pressure that was apparently too high led to substantial drop-out rates in a group-based micro finance model. This comparison supports our deduction that interventions (and their design) should always be chosen carefully and context-specific.
- Our final general recommendation is that evaluation requirements should be taken into account systematically when designing, budgeting, implementing and reporting employment interventions. This would help improve our understanding of policy interventions and help allocate resources in a way that is most conducive to achieving the desired outcomes
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