Workforce Development as an Antipoverty Strategy: What do We Know? What Should We do?

42 Pages Posted: 3 Nov 2008

See all articles by Harry J. Holzer

Harry J. Holzer

Georgetown University - Public Policy Institute (GPPI); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Abstract

In this paper I note the basic paradox of workforce development policy: that, in an era in which skills are more important than ever as determinants of labor market earnings, we spend fewer and fewer public (federal) dollars on workforce development over time. I present trends in funding and how the major federal programs at the Department of Labor and other agencies have evolved over time, noting the dramatic declines in funding (with the exception of Pell grants). I then review what we know about the cost-effectiveness of programs for adults and youth from the evaluation literature. I consider some other possible reasons for funding declines, such as the notion that other approaches (like supplementing the low earnings of workers with tax credits or early childhood programs) are more effective and address more serious problems. I review some newer developments in workforce policy, mostly at the state and local levels, and then conclude with some policy recommendations.

Keywords: workforce development, poverty

JEL Classification: J24

Suggested Citation

Holzer, Harry J., Workforce Development as an Antipoverty Strategy: What do We Know? What Should We do?. IZA Discussion Paper No. 3776. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1293548 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.0042-7092.2007.00700.x

Harry J. Holzer (Contact Author)

Georgetown University - Public Policy Institute (GPPI) ( email )

3600 N Street, NW Suite 200
Washington, DC 20057
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

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