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Unemployed and their caseworkers: should they be friends or foes?


Michael Lechner, Swiss Institute for Empirical Economic Research, University of St Gallen, Varnbüelstrasse 14, CH-9000 St Gallen, Switzerland.


Summary.  In many countries, caseworkers in public employment offices have dual roles of counselling and monitoring unemployed people. These roles often conflict, which results in important caseworker heterogeneity: some consider providing services to their clients and satisfying their demands as their primary task. However, others may pursue their own strategies, even against the will of the unemployed person. They may assign jobs and labour market programmes without the consent of the unemployed person. On the basis of a very detailed linked jobseeker–caseworker data set for Switzerland, we investigate the effects of caseworkers’ co-operativeness on the probabilities of employment of their clients. Modified statistical matching methods reveal that caseworkers who place less emphasis on a co-operative and harmonic relationship with their clients increase their chances of employment in the short and medium term.