Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to investigate how active labour market policy (ALMP) training programmes and hiring subsidies increase or decrease differences in the unemployment risk between lesser and higher educated people during an economic downturn. A focus is put on potential job competition dynamics and cumulative (dis)advantages of the lesser and higher educated. Design/methodology/approach – The paper uses multi-level data. The fifth wave (2010) of the European Social Survey was used and combined with macro-level data on labour market policies of the OECD. The sample consisted of 18,172 observations in 19 countries. Findings – The results show that higher levels of participation and spending on training policies are related to a smaller difference in the unemployment risks of the educational groups. Higher training policy intensity is associated with a lower unemployment risk for the lesser educated and a higher unemployment risk for the higher educated. This implies that the lesser educated are better able to withstand downward pressure from the higher educated, thereby, reducing downward displacement during an economic downturn. Hiring subsidies do not seem to be associated with the impact of education on unemployment. Originality/value – The paper adds to the discussion on ALMP training and hiring subsidies that are primarily rooted in the human capital theory and signalling theory. Both theories ignore the social context of labour market behaviour. The job competition theory and cumulative (dis)advantage theory add to these theories by focussing on the relative position of individuals and the characteristics that accompany the social position of the individual.

Additional Metadata
Keywords Unemployment, Displacement, Active labour market policy, Cumulative (dis)advantage, Job competition, Matthew effect
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1108/IJSSP-08-2018-0138, hdl.handle.net/1765/114392
Citation
Benda, L, Koster, F, & van der Veen, R.J. (2018). Levelling the playing filed? Active labour market policies, eduactional attainment and unemployment. doi:10.1108/IJSSP-08-2018-0138