Did the 1994/96 Employment Insurance Reforms Improve Labour Market Outcomes for Young People

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One of the goals of the Employment Insurance (El) changes during 1994/96 was to reduce the number of habitual, seasonal El users, and to re-channel such users into higher skilled, lower-unemployment occupations. The changes were expected to re-direct a large proportion of young people into more productive human capital acquisition and occupational-choice activity. This paper investigates, using a simple one-equation model, the factors associated with a polychotomous (multinomial) variable describing labour-market states for young people. The model uses year / province interaction variables to explain pre- and post-reform El policy changes, along with labour-market and socioeconomic control variables. This paper finds that labour market/human capital participation for young people improved steadily, from the 1980s through the late 1990s, for young people living as dependants within a family. But for young people living away from their parents, there was little long-run economic improvement. For this group, there is some evidence that the 1994/96 El reforms did play a small role in improving labour market / education outcomes.