A RANDOMIZED, CONTROLLED RESEARCHPROJECT INVOLVING RECIPIENTS OF SOCIAL BENEIFTS, WITHOUT ORDINARY REQUIREMENTS AND FORCE.
An experiment in 3-4 municipalities, with 3 target groups, for 3 years.
Sign the citizen proposal HERE.
In the spring of 2019, we released "Motivated Employment". You can get it as a book or PDF here.
In the summer of 2019, we will be publishing a design manual for experiments in continuation of this book.
Denmark is the country in the world that spends the most money on active employment efforts in relation to the size of the economy - around DKK 13 billion a year. It is an effort that is characterized by extensive demands on the unemployed, combined with sanctions against those who do not meet the requirements. In addition to being very costly, both the exposed citizens and the front line workers experience several negative effects of the current employment policy.
The existing research also shows that active employment efforts have a very limited effect on employment, especially for cash beneficiaries. Several trials with more intensive activation have shown that claims and penalties in the form of benefit reductions have no positive effect on cash benefit recipients. On the contrary, studies show that the many requirements and complicated rules combined with penalties result in a high degree of mental strain and vulnerability in already exposed citizens, especially in the form of increased stress and less motivation.
Overall, analyzes of registry data show that around 70 percent of cash beneficiaries remain on public support after six years, and that number, despite numerous employment reforms, has remained largely unchanged since the 1980s.
Therefore, one should question whether current employment efforts vis-à-vis cash beneficiaries are the most effective way to support vulnerable citizens in their return to education or work, or whether the complex employment system is helping to prevent participation in work or education. .
Previous randomized controlled trials in Denmark have tested the effect of various types of increased activation and availability requirements, while no similar trials have been conducted with fewer claims and penalties. In recent years, several trials have been conducted with a more flexible approach to action, but these trials have not been designed as randomized controlled trials, and have usually included a limited number of citizens and therefore cannot provide us with accurate knowledge of effects.
Thus, a larger trial is needed with a more robust research design that can provide useful knowledge about the effects of an approach based on trust and on citizens' own priorities.
Content of the project
The project contains five phases, of which the first phase is developed and implemented in collaboration between the Center for Social Innovation (project owners), AROS Policy Research, Lind Invest, VIVE and Move The Elephant for Inclusiveness. The second phase will also be completed in early 2019 with funding from Lind Invest.
The first phase consisted of a summary of research in the field of employment, both from Denmark and internationally, which resulted in the publication of the book 'Motivated Employment' at the end of 2018. This work was carried out with support from Lind Invest.
Phase 2: Establishing contact with interested municipalities and overall development of experimental design in collaboration with VIVE. Ongoing dialogue with politicians, including employment mayors, mayors, ministers, etc., to disseminate knowledge about research in the field and provide support for trials with a more flexible approach to cash assistance.
In this phase, we also conduct a series of workshops with municipal staff and cash benefit recipients to draw on their experience with the current system, and develop a catalog of new initiatives that are interesting to include in an experimental design. This work is also funded by Lind Invest and results in the first half of 2019 in a report detailing the pros and cons of various experimental designs, as well as a description of which hypotheses we want to test, a clearly specified theory of change, and a catalog of employment efforts that may be included in a trial.
This phase will result in an application for a free municipality trial for the deadline October 1, 2019.
Phase 1: If the application is approved, the next phase will be planning of the trial in collaboration with the participating municipalities. It will include a series of meetings with relevant stakeholders in the three municipalities to plan the experiment in detail.
Phase 2: Conducting pilot experiments in a number of municipalities as well as ongoing monitoring and communication about the project. Data collection is expected to run over 36 months.
Phase 3: Analysis of the collected
ed data and dissemination of results. This is scheduled to run over a period of six months.
Activities under the project:
Planning and Development of Detailed Experimental Design (May to October, 2019)
The planning phase is expected to extend over eight months, and will involve an intensive process of meetings with politicians, government agencies and other stakeholders in three municipalities on the trial, to ensure agreement on the purpose and the process. In the preparation phase, we will incorporate citizens 'and employees' perspectives and insights into the development of experimental design. For this purpose, we will utilize various involvement and design processes and draw on, among other things, experiences from Citizen Design. In collaboration with researchers from VIVE, we will also develop and describe a detailed experimental design and method that ensures that the experimental design is appropriate in relation to testing the defined hypotheses.
The trial is expected to be conducted over a period of 36 months. The trial will involve three experimental groups in a number of municipalities: one control group and two participant groups.
Control group: a group of cash beneficiaries participating in the regular employment effort. The costs of the efforts for this group will be borne by the municipalities as normal, as there will be no extraordinary efforts. As employment efforts often change, the participants in this group will ideally be exempted from changes in legislation that occur while data collection is in progress. However, this is unlikely to be possible in practice.
Participant Group 1: A group of cash benefit recipients who also participate in the regular employment effort but who are exempt from mandatory participation in activation and from penalties. The purpose of this group is to test the effect of volunteerism in employment efforts. As the group of participants is similar to the control group on all relevant background parameters, and also participates in the regular employment effort, we can isolate the effect of voluntary activity on, for example, employment rate, distance from the labor market and well-being.
There will be no extraordinary costs associated with this effort immediately, as participants will have access to the same offers as in the regular effort. Project activities in relation to this group will primarily involve:
Designing communication material for the participants and training the relevant front staff in communication with the participants, to ensure that it is clear to the participants that participation in activation is voluntary and that they will in no case be subject to penalties during the trial period.
Communication and activities based on behavioral design to test whether different forms of 'nudging' can replace claims and penalties. In this work, we propose to draw on the experience of the British Government's Behavioral Insights Team, qualified through workshops with staff and citizens in the participating municipalities.
Participant Group 2: A group of cash benefit recipients who are given the opportunity to voluntarily participate in a motivational employment effort, with new offers targeted to their needs. Unlike most previous experiments, with this approach we do not test one particular effort or tool to be used by all citizens who are drawn to this group. Instead, the case workers are provided with a number of new tools that they can use depending on whether they consider it relevant and whether the citizens are interested in participating. The effort will involve:
New offers, for example, citizen budgets, selected in collaboration with the participating municipalities.
Moreover, the effort is being redesigned, so that, for example, the way the municipality communicates with the citizens or the places where meetings are held, is different from the ordinary effort.
The specific efforts will be designed in collaboration with employees and citizens, through a series of workshops, incorporating the experience of previous experiments in Denmark and knowledge from behavioral science from both Denmark and internationally.
It is possible that this effort can also test the effect of hiring more case managers per citizen, but whether this element should be included will depend on a dialogue with the participating municipalities and the fund that funds the trial.
The purpose of this group is to test the combination of volunteerism with an alternative employment effort, where case workers are provided with new tools and where we test another way to involve citizens in the effort.
The project will establish a solid monitoring system to ensure that the efforts are carried out as planned. It is a prerequisite for the trial to be able to draw certain conclusions about the effects of the different efforts that the participants in the three different groups are actually treated differently in practice. CFSN will establish a small team that will be responsible for monitoring the project's implementation in collaboration with the municipalities.
As described below under method, the project will collect both qualitative and quantitative data through a variety of methods. The data collected will be analyzed both continuously (baseline and midline) and after completion of data collection (endline). The analysis work will be done by the research leader based at CFSN in collaboration with the associated researchers from VIVE (quantitative analysis) and SUS (qualitative analysis).
To create secure knowledge of the effects of voluntary participation and improved employment efforts, our method will be a randomized controlled trial. Randomized controlled trials are often described as the 'gold standard' for scientific trials. Because they involve a randomly selected control group, which is therefore similar to the participant group, one can directly see the effect of the effort being undertaken for the participant group.
It is important to keep the random selection of participants in the trial, so that we can say something with certainty about the effect of the effort. On the other hand, if participants are handpicked to participate in the trial, we cannot say whether the effect is due to the difference in effort, or other differences between participants and control group.
As a starting point, we propose that randomization occurs at the caseworker level. This design will allow us to examine the effect of a completely different approach and communication with the cash beneficiaries. If, on the other hand, randomization occurs at the case level, so that each caseworker handles both citizens in the ordinary effort and in the alternative effort, there will be a risk that the caseworker will also change the approach in relation to the citizens who do not participate in the trial.
The specific pilot design will be prepared in collaboration with decision-makers, front-line employees and cash benefit recipients in the two municipalities, but as a starting point we want to test the effect of two different new initiatives in the field of employment: the effect of voluntary participation and the effect of a new employment effort that makes use of some of the promising new initiatives that have been tried in recent years and draws on knowledge from the behavioral sciences.
To identify the effect of these two measures, as mentioned above, we will collect data on three different groups of cash and educational aid recipients:
1. a group participating in the ordinary employment effort (the control group);
2. a group which also participates in ordinary employment efforts but is exempt from compulsory participation in activation and from sanctions;
3. a group that is offered the opportunity to voluntarily choose to participate in an improved employment effort with new offers targeted to their needs.
It is important to note here that it is only participant group 2 that will require action beyond the ordinary.
We will use a mixed-methods design that involves both qualitative and quantitative methods. Data will be collected at three times: at project start to a baseline, after the first year to a midline, and after year two to an endline. Data will be collected through the following methods:
Individual qualitative interviews at three time points (baseline, midline, endline). These interviews will go into depth with the participants' situation and how they experience the meeting with the employment system.
Focus group discussions with various groups of participants, including men and women, different age groups, educational aid recipients and job and activity ready cash assistance recipients.
Individual qualitative interviews with front staff involved in the trial.
Observations of conversations between citizens and front staff.
Quantitative analysis of data from questionnaire surveys. We will conduct a questionnaire survey with all participants in the trial. The study will be conducted three times (baseline, midline and endline). The questionnaire survey and analysis of the collected data will be conducted under the guidance of the associated researchers from VIVE, but implemented by an external agency specialized in questionnaire surveys.
Analysis of register data: Data from the questionnaire survey will be combined with analysis of register data, including data related to income, employment and health.
Free citizens and get more cash beneficiaries in jobs and education
Every year, Denmark spends billions on getting unemployed quickly in work and education. But there are many indications that the effort has a limited effect on most cash benefit recipients. A new book from the Center for Social Innovation highlights the need to rethink the basic premises behind employment efforts.
Denmark is the country in the world that spends the most money on active employment efforts in relation to the size of the economy - around DKK 13 billion a year. It is an effort that is increasingly characterized by extensive demands on the unemployed, combined with sanctions against them...
to ensure that the research design includes the knowledge that exists among the employees and the citizens concerned and that the trial will contribute new knowledge relevant to the practice.
The ambition is that the experiment is designed from the perspective of behavioral economic evidence and perspectives and is carried out in collaboration between the citizens and employees concerned, as well as researchers and behavioral design specialists.
A subsequent report, scheduled for release in early 2019, will present the proposals for trials of a new cash assistance scheme that employees and citizens are jointly developing, and will go deeper into the methodological and practical considerations associated with making trials. in the field of employment.
Interested in knowing more?
The book Motivated Employment was compiled by Aros Policy Research, Move the Elephant for Inclusiveness and the Center for Social Innovation with support from Lind Invest. The book can be ordered here as hardback and PDF.
For more information contact Steffen Rasmussen at firstname.lastname@example.org or 26 19 52 78 and visit www.cfsn.dk or www.socialfagligt-forlag.dk.
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