Gender and the Job Guarantee: The Impact of Argentina's Jefes Program on Female Heads of Poor Households
45 Pages Posted: 16 Oct 2008
Date Written: December 1, 2005
For many years Argentina was the poster child of IMF austerity and market liberalization policies, until it experienced an economic meltdown in the winter of 2001-2002. To deal with the looming crisis and skyrocketing unemployment and poverty rates, the Argentinean government implemented a limited job guarantee program called Plan Jefes y Jefas de Hogar Desocupados (Program for the Unemployed Male and Female Heads of Households, or simply Jefes).
Participation in the program grew quickly, to, at its peak, 13% of the labor force. To the surprise of Labor Ministry officials, female heads of households eventually accounted for some 75% of program participants. Research indicates that the program is well targeted, highly popular among participants, and well run. However, the program has been criticized by the media and some research institutions and policy-makers.
This paper reports on an evaluation by the Center for Full Employment and Price Stability of the program's benefits, particularly among female participants, in light of the potential dismantling of the program and its replacement by a more traditional combination of unemployment compensation and "welfare." We conclude that government attempts to dismantle the program would not only meet with substantial opposition from program participants but could, if successful, represent a huge step backward with respect to reduction of gender inequality.
Keywords: job guarantee program, Argentina, Jefes projects, female heads of households
JEL Classification: E24, E62, E65, J16, J68, N36
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation