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Reducing inequality summer by summer: Lessons from an evaluation of the Boston Summer Youth Employment Program

Alicia Modestino and Richard J. Paulsen

Evaluation and Program Planning, 2019, vol. 72, issue C, 40-53

Abstract: Many U.S. cities have implemented Summer Youth Employment Programs (SYEPs) with the hope of improving long-term behavioral, academic, and economic outcomes among program participants, particularly inner-city, low-income, and non-white youth. While recent empirical studies show positive impacts for some outcomes, little is known about program mechanisms and the potential to reduce inequality across groups. Using an embedded randomized control trial, this study evaluates improvements in short-term outcomes for the Boston SYEP based on survey data collected for both treatment and control groups during the summers of 2015, 2016, and 2017. Participants reported increases in community engagement and social skills, job readiness skills, and college aspirations that were significantly different from the control group. In most cases, the largest gains were observed for non-white youth suggesting that the program may have the capacity to reduce inequality across groups. Our hope is that this article will serve as a resource for those seeking to understand how summer jobs programs work and for whom, and to use these findings to strengthen and target the SYEP intervention. We also provide practical lessons learned regarding the development and deployment of our survey instrument to both the treatment and control groups among the youth population.

Keywords: Youth; Public policy; Human capital; Skills; Job mobility (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019
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