SELECTION BIAS: Our Data

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The data used in this study come from four training centers participating in a randomized evaluation of the Job Training Partnership Act (JTPA). Along with data on the experimental treatment and control groups, information was collected on a nonexperimental comparison group of persons located in the same four labor markets who were eligible for the program but chose not to participate in it at the time random assignment was conducted. These persons are termed ENPs – for eligible nonparticipants.
Random assignment took place at the point where individuals had applied to and been accepted into JTPA (i.e., admitted by a JTPA administrator). Under ideal conditions, randomization at this point identifies parameters (1) and (2). Members of the control group were excluded from receiving JTPA services for 18 months after random assignment. The controls completed the same survey instrument as the ENP comparison group members. This instrument included detailed retrospective questions on labor force participation, job spells, earnings, marital status and other characteristics. In this paper, we analyze a sample of adult males age 22 to 54. Table 1 defines the variables used in this study. Appendix В describes the data more fully and gives summary statistics for our sample.

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Determining the Probability of Program Participation P
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The participation probability P(X) plays a central role in our analysis. In this paper, participation means that a person applies and is accepted into the program. Heckman and Smith (1995b) find that for all groups, including adult males, recent (past six months) labor force status transitions, not the pre-program earnings dip emphasized by Ashenfelter (1978), are the key predictors of participation. The relative participation rates presented in the fifth column of Table 2 demonstrate this point. Persons recently entering unemployment are the most likely to seek to participate in the program. Participation in job training is a form of job search for many unemployed workers. Earnings at the time of the participation decision are an important secondary predictor of participation.