Public work programs vs active labour market programs: evidence from Papua New Guinea

Presented by ANU College of Asia & the Pacific

In the vast majority of developing countries, young people do not have a formal sector job. Instead, they often earn an income through a range of activities classified by the International Labour Organisation as 'vulnerable employment'.

In response to this difficult and at times vulnerable employment status, billions of dollars have been spent by governments and aid donors on programs that typically take two different forms: active labour market programs (ALMPs), and public works programs (PWPs). ALMPs aim to improve the long term employability of youth by providing training, work placements and job searching assistance, and PWPs offer social protection through the creation of temporary employment opportunities.

Just how effective are these programs? In this public seminar, Chris Hoy will present the initial results of an impact evaluation of the largest employment program in Papua New Guinea, the Urban Youth Employment Program (UYEP). Almost 20,000 youth in Port Moresby have participated in UYEP over the last five years and the impact evaluation shows substantial increases in employment, but limited effect on reducing criminal behaviour. This is one of the first impact evaluations that has been conducted in the Pacific and illustrates the potential for further rigorous quantitative evaluations.

Chris Hoy is a PhD candidate in economics, a lecturer at the University of Sydney, and a consultant for a variety of organisations including the World Bank. Over the past ten years he has been working in the international development sector, including as a researcher with the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) and an economist for UNICEF Uganda, the Australian Aid Program, and the Australian Treasury.

This seminar is presented as part of the Development Policy Centre's PNG Project, which receives funding from the Australian Aid Program through the Pacific Governance and Leadership Precinct.