January 2021

IZA DP No. 14024: Job Placement via Private vs. Public Employment Agencies: Investigating Selection Effects and Job Match Quality in Germany

Employment agencies aim to match individuals to appropriate jobs. There are public and private employment agencies, which co-exist in many countries. Selection effects may be relevant in the sense that private agencies potentially engage in 'cream-skimming' by prioritizing highly qualified workers. The resulting job match quality is also important from an individual, a firm, and a society perspective. We examine the selection into job placement via private and public employment agencies as well as the resulting job match qualities, taking a job-market reform in Germany into account: the introduction of placement vouchers for private job placements. Using representative German panel data, we find that cream-skimming is significantly less pronounced under the voucher policy, as private agencies shift the focus toward unemployed individuals with a voucher. In addition, we find evidence based on propensity score matching estimations that private agencies tend to create better matches than their public counterparts.