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The Effects of Youth Employment - Evidence from New York City Summer Youth Employment Program Lotteries
Last registered on July 10, 2016

Pre-Trial

Trial Information
General Information
Title
The Effects of Youth Employment - Evidence from New York City Summer Youth Employment Program Lotteries
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0001357
Initial registration date
July 10, 2016
Last updated
July 10, 2016 12:31 PM EDT
Location(s)
Primary Investigator
Affiliation
Wharton School - University of Pennsylvania
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
Office of Tax Analysis, U.S. Department of the Treasury
PI Affiliation
Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California at Berkeley
Additional Trial Information
Status
Completed
Start date
2005-01-01
End date
2014-10-31
Secondary IDs
Abstract
Programs to encourage labor market activity among youth, including public employment programs and wage subsidies like the Work Opportunity Tax Credit, can be supported by three broad rationales. They may: (1) provide contemporaneous income support to participants; (2) encourage work experience that improves future employment and/or educational outcomes of participants; and/or (3) keep participants “out of trouble.” We study randomized lotteries for access to New York City's Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP), the largest summer youth employment program in the U.S., by merging SYEP administrative data on 294,100 lottery participants to IRS data on the universe of U.S. tax records and to New York State administrative incarceration data. In assessing the three rationales, we find that: (1) SYEP participation causes average earnings and the probability of employment to increase in the year of program participation, with modest contemporaneous crowdout of other earnings and employment; (2) SYEP participation causes a moderate decrease in average earnings for three years following the program and has no impact on college enrollment; and (3) SYEP participation decreases the probability of incarceration and decreases the probability of mortality, which has important and potentially pivotal implications for analyzing the net benefits of the program.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Citation
Gelber, Alexander, Adam Isen and Judd Kessler. 2016. "The Effects of Youth Employment - Evidence from New York City Summer Youth Employment Program Lotteries." AEA RCT Registry. July 10. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.1357-1.0.
Former Citation
Gelber, Alexander et al. 2016. "The Effects of Youth Employment - Evidence from New York City Summer Youth Employment Program Lotteries." AEA RCT Registry. July 10. https://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/1357/history/9347.
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Experimental Details
Interventions
Intervention(s)
We studied participants in the New York City Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) from 2005 to 2008, which was the largest summer youth employment program in the United States, providing summer jobs to, on average, more than 34,000 youth at a cost of approximately $59 million each year. SYEP placed participants in entry-level jobs and paid them the minimum wage for working up to 25 hours per week for up to seven weeks. To be eligible for the program, youth had to be between 14 and 21 years old and meet work eligibility requirements. The city contracted community-based organizations to match participants with employers and provide approximately 17.5 hours of workshops to participants on job readiness, career exploration, financial literacy, and opportunities to continue their education. The community-based organizations placed nearly half of the participants at summer camps and day care centers. Participants were also placed with various government entities and other private sector firms.

We analysed the impact of SYEP on the earnings, employment, college enrollment, incarceration, and mortality of the participating youth. The program received more applications than jobs available, so participation was determined by lottery. Over the study period, 294,100 qualifying applications for SYEP were received, out of which 164,641 were selected for the program and 129,459 were not selected. The city ran a lottery to determine who would be offered a job sponsored by the program. After the initial lotteries, subsequent lotteries were conducted to fill the slots of initial winners who did not participate until all slots were filled. Applicants could re-apply in subsequent years, regardless of whether they had previously participated in the program. We linked several administrative datasets, including program application records, tax data, cause of death data, and incarceration data, to track the applicants' outcomes.
Intervention Start Date
2005-07-01
Intervention End Date
2008-08-31
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
- Youth earnings
- Employment
- College enrolment
- Incarceration
- Mortality
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
We investigate the empirical support for these three rationales by analyzing the SYEP program in the years 2005 to 2008, inclusive. During these years, SYEP provided summer jobs to NYC youth aged 14 to 21, paid by the NYC government at a total cost of $236 million.4 Each year, SYEP received more applications than the number of SYEP jobs available. In the face of this excess demand, SYEP randomly allocated spots in the program to applicants by lottery. We compare the outcomes of individuals who participate in SYEP because they were randomly selected to receive a job through SYEP, to the outcomes of individuals randomly not selected. We examine the effect of SYEP on observable outcomes suited to assess each of the rationales for summer youth employment programs. We link SYEP administrative data on these lottery winners and losers to Internal Revenue Service (IRS) administrative data on the universe of U.S. federal tax data; to New York State (NYS)
Department of Corrections and Community Services (DOCCS) administrative data on individuals incarcerated in NYS; and to NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOH) administrative data on causes of death in New York City.

SYEP places participants in entry-level jobs and pays them the NYS minimum wage for working up to 25 hours per week during the summer. There are various types of SYEP jobs, including jobs at summer camps, daycare centers, government agencies, hospitals, law firms, museums, and retail organizations. Nearly half of SYEP jobs are at summer camps or day care centers. All NYC youth who are able to provide certain documentation are eligible to apply for SYEP. In order to be eligible, applicants must show proof of identity using an official picture ID; proof of employment authorization; proof of age; proof of Social Security Number using a Social Security card; working papers for those under 18; proof of citizenship/alien status; proof of address; proof of family income; and a signed SYEP application.

SYEP is administered by community-based organizations called “providers,” which contract with DYCD to place SYEP participants into worksites and administer the program. Participants typically do not work directly for providers, but rather typically work for the employers to which providers match participants. During the summer, the providers also give participants approximately 17.5 hours of workshops on job readiness, career exploration, financial literacy and opportunities to continue education. Individuals choose which provider to apply to; applicants typically choose a provider located near their home. In a given year, an applicant applies to only one provider and is unable to apply to other providers at any point in that year. They apply for the program online or at a SYEP provider during the application period, usually early-April to mid-May of the program year. Since there are more applicants than available slots in each year, the individuals who are allowed to participate in SYEP are selected by lottery. There are 62 SYEP providers in our data. Within each provider, there is a lottery to determine which individuals are selected for SYEP. Thus, winning the lottery is random conditional on applying to a given provider.

In each year, SYEP selected applicants through a series of lotteries. In an initial lottery, SYEP randomly selected winners and losers, where the number of winners was chosen to match the number of SYEP jobs available. However, not all of the individuals selected through this initial lottery participated in SYEP. Selected individuals may have chosen not to participate or failed to prove eligibility to participate. In order to fill the remaining slots, SYEP providers conducted subsequent lotteries. In each lottery, the number of winners was selected in order to match the number of remaining jobs at the SYEP provider, until the number of SYEP enrollees approximately matched the number of available jobs.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Computerized lottery
Randomization Unit
Individual
Was the treatment clustered?
No
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
294,100 lottery participants
Sample size: planned number of observations
294,100 lottery participants
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
Treatment group: 164,641 randomly selected for the program by lottery; control group: 129,459 applicants who were randomly not selected for the program
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
IRB Name
Study has received IRB approval. Details not available.
IRB Approval Date
Details not available
IRB Approval Number
Details not available
Post-Trial
Post Trial Information
Study Withdrawal
Intervention
Is the intervention completed?
Yes
Intervention Completion Date
August 31, 2008, 12:00 AM +00:00
Is data collection complete?
Yes
Data Collection Completion Date
October 31, 2014, 12:00 AM +00:00
Final Sample Size: Number of Clusters (Unit of Randomization)
294,580 lottery participants
Was attrition correlated with treatment status?
Final Sample Size: Total Number of Observations
294,580 lottery participants
Final Sample Size (or Number of Clusters) by Treatment Arms
Treatment group: 164,977 SYEP participants; control group: 129,603 applicants who did not get
Data Publication
Data Publication
Is public data available?
No
Program Files
Program Files
Reports and Papers
Preliminary Reports
Relevant Papers
Abstract
Programs to encourage labor market activity among youth, including public employment programs and wage subsidies like the Work Opportunity Tax Credit, can be supported by three broad rationales. They may: (1) provide contemporaneous income support to participants; (2) encourage work experience that improves future employment and/or educational outcomes of participants; and/or (3) keep participants “out of trouble.” We study randomized lotteries for access to New York City's Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP), the largest summer youth employment program in the U.S., by merging SYEP administrative data on 294,580 lottery participants to IRS data on the universe of U.S. tax records and to New York State administrative incarceration data. In assessing the three rationales, we find that: (1) SYEP participation causes average earnings and the probability of employment to increase in the year of program participation, with modest contemporaneous crowdout of other earnings and employment; (2) SYEP participation causes a moderate decrease in average earnings for three years following the program and has no impact on college enrollment; and (3) SYEP participation decreases the probability of incarceration and decreases the probability of mortality, which has important and potentially pivotal implications for analyzing the net benefits of the program.
Citation
Gelber, Alexander, Adam Isen and Judd B. Kessler. 2016. "The Effects of Youth Employment - Evidence from New York City Summer Youth Employment Program Lotteries." Quarterly Journal of Economics 131 (1): 423-460.