• Innovative Job Guarantee Scheme delivers economic and social boost to Austrian Town;
  • Scheme designer, INET Oxford’s Lukas Lehner, receives international recognition for novel economic research;
  • Success prompts global organisations to look closely at policy implications.

Lukas Lehner, a doctoral student at the University of Oxford’s Department of Social Policy & Intervention and a researcher at the Institute for New Economic Thinking at the Oxford Martin School, won the Economic and Social Research Council’s (ESRC) Outstanding Early Career Impact award for his project, ‘Designing a guaranteed job scheme to reduce long-term unemployment’.

Together with Oxford Professor of Economics Maximilian Kasy, he designed and evaluated a pilot that achieved eye-catching results in a small community in Austria.

Launched in 2020, the initiative was designed to bring long-term unemployed individuals back into the workforce. The pilot, collaborated with the job centre, was unique in offering a universal and unconditional guarantee of a well-paid job to every resident who was unemployed for more than 12 months. Participation in the scheme was voluntary and it was designed to provide meaningful employment, along with innovative ways to motivate participation.

Results found participants’ incomes rose and they gained greater financial security. Those taking part were happier, more satisfied, and felt more in control of their lives. They had more meaningful interactions with others, felt more valued, and felt they had more people around them who they could rely on.

The work is being looked at by major international organisations such as the UN, EU, ILO and OECD who are interested in its implications for policy design.

INET Oxford Executive Director Eric Beinhocker congratulated Lukas and Max, noting that their research could prompt major policy-changes across the world.

“For decades, governments have struggled to deal with issues related to long-term unemployment. The promising results from Lukas’ and Max’s research shows that guaranteed job schemes could be a win-win, significantly improving the lives of participants and providing better outcomes for governments.”

INET’s Lukas Lehner said the pilot scheme had improved both economic and social outcomes.

“Employment, with appropriate wages, can generate long term benefits that go well beyond the economic.” Lukas Lehner said.

"Being out of work for long periods of time not only puts pressure on a person’s finances, but also affects their health, wellbeing and social inclusion.”

“Our pilot scheme not only eliminated long-term unemployment – an important result, given the programme’s entirely voluntary nature—but also showed that participants were happier, more satisfied and felt more in control of their lives” he added.


Read the INET Oxford research briefing on the Universal Job Guarantee

Read the full study - Employing the unemployed of Marienthal: Evaluation of a guaranteed job program

Watch the video - Piloting a job guarantee scheme for long-term unemployed people