"Does Demanding Activation Work?" › view all


A New Publication by BIGSSS Alumnus Carlo M. Knotz

BIGSSS postdoc alumnus Carlo Michael Knotz published a new article on "Does Demanding Activation Work? A Comparative Analysis of the Effects of Unemployment Benefit Conditionality on Employment in 21 Advanced Economies, 1980–2012" in the European Sociological Review.

You can access the article "Does Demanding Activation Work?" through the journal#s website.



Whether or not putting the unemployed under greater pressure to seek and accept jobs really helps to raise levels of employment remains a controversially discussed question. Empirical research into this question has so far focused on the micro-level whereas the macro-level effects remain unexplored. This article fills this gap, using a novel comparative dataset on the strictness of job-search and availability requirements and sanction rules for unemployment benefit claimants in 21 countries between 1980 and 2012. It is shown that requiring more active job-search and availability for a wider range of jobs does indeed lead to increased employment, while no evidence for a similar positive effect of tougher sanction rules on employment is found. The data do indicate, however, that sanction rules are themselves a product of adverse labour market conditions. Interactive estimations also suggest a negative moderating influence of tough sanction rules on the effectiveness of stricter conditions, whereas more generous unemployment insurance and assistance benefits appear to strengthen the effects of stricter conditions. Overall, the results suggest that to increase employment, the treatment of the unemployed may be demanding but should not be punitive and should include supportive elements, providing claimants with the resources they need to effectively look for work.