[Journal:] Zeitschrift für ArbeitsmarktForschung – Journal for Labour Market Research [ISSN:] 2510-5027 [Volume:] 39 [Year:] 2006 [Issue:] 3/4 [Pages:] 557-574
The new 'customer centre' model is at the core of the organizational restructuring of German public employment offices. One of the main objectives of the reform is to improve the quality of services in order to bring job seekers back into employment more quickly. This paper examines whether this major organizational restructuring of the employment service agencies has met these expectations, i.e. whether the new customer centre model has contributed to a more rapid transition of job seekers into regular employment. It should be noted that the evaluation only covers a one-year period following the implementation of the new customer centre model and is limited to the organizational reforms introduced within the observation period. Taking advantage of the gradual introduction of the new PES agency model, the evaluation uses a control group design to identify the causal effect of the customer centre model. Selection bias is controlled for by adjusting the basic population parameters at the aggregate level of PES agencies rather than matching individuals. In a first step, the customer centre pilot agencies are matched with similar control agencies based on key labour market indicators. In a second step, random samples of the unemployment inflow in the pilot agencies and the respective control agencies are drawn from unemployment register data. To assess the causal effect of the customer centre model, a difference-in-differences estimator is applied, using a discrete time proportional hazards framework. The main results can be summarized as follows: The new customer centre model has not yet had an overall effect on transitions of job seekers into employment. However, a positive effect was estimated for men in eastern Germany, whereas disadvantaged groups did not benefit from the customer centre model. Worse, for unskilled men and older unemployed males in western Germany the estimates show a negative impact of the new customer centre model on transitions into employment.