In 2012, private agents supplied services to 121 000 participants. However, there has been no research on the effects of introducing alternative providers. Two current Swedish studies that are presented and discussed here have contributed to provide increased knowledge in this area.
EVALUATION OF ALTERNATIVE PROVIDERS. The Swedish National Audit Office, among others, has criticized the Swedish Public Employment Service for low productivity and insufficient efficiency. In 2007, a trial activity was started with private providers as a supplement to the Swedish Public Employment Service’s own activities. The private element has then gradually been extended. In 2012, private agents supplied services to 121 000 participants. However, there has been no research on the effects of introducing alternative providers. Two current Swedish studies that are presented and discussed here have contributed to provide increased knowledge in this area.
NO GENERAL DIFFERENCES. These two studies deal with attempts to use private employment services as well as rehabilitation focusing on working life, targeting individuals who are relatively far from the labour market. These studies do not give any support for there being any clear differences between how well private agents and the Swedish Public Employment Service succeed with these tasks.
DIFFERENT WORKING METHODS. One motive for introducing private agents is the hope that it will lead to innovation. One of the studies shows that there were differences in the working methods. Private providers had closer contacts with their participants than what the Swedish Public Employment Service had. Participants who had private providers were also more satisfied with the service.
RANDOMIZED FIELD EXPERIMENTS. The trial activities were designed like field experiments. The participants were randomly divided into two groups, one that got help from private agents and a control group that remained with the Swedish Public Employment Service. This makes it possible to compare the groups and draw more certain conclusions about possible differences. Such designs are excellent for evaluating policy reforms, not the least within different areas of welfare.
AUTHOR Richard Öhrvall has a Master of Arts in Political Science and has worked at the Research Institute of Industrial Economics since February 2013 within the framework of the research programme From Welfare State to Welfare Society. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.