Backed by evidence from the Marienthal Job Guarantee, there are signs that this policy tool could be moving towards wider implementation.

The world’s first universal job guarantee experiment, led by INET Oxford economists Lukas Lehner and Maximilian Kasy, has produced strong evidence on the economic and social benefits of this policy tool, and fed into a surge of policymaker interest. New EU initiatives, as well as interest from the UN and OECD, may now help shift job guarantees from the realm of policy experiments to policy reality.

What is the Marienthal Job Guarantee?

Launched in 2020 in the Austrian town of Marienthal, the pilot is unique in offering a universal and unconditional guarantee of a well-paid job to every unemployed resident for more than 12 months. First round 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 pilot eliminated long-term unemployment – an important result, given the programme’s entirely voluntary nature. It also drove a large reduction in the town’s overall unemployment.

Interest in job guarantees has ballooned over the last decade but, until recently, debates about the merits of the idea lacked empirical evidence; this pilot is helping fill that gap.

Growing impact

The experiment is generating policymaker interest and action around the world. For example:

  • EU Commissioner Nicolas Schmit announced 23 Million Euros funding for social innovations to support job guarantee pilots in Europe following an event at the European Parliament in June during which Lukas Lehner presented the Marienthal job guarantee study. Another presentation at the European Commission is scheduled for autumn.
  • The EU Committee of the Regions recently passed a unanimous motion calling on the EU Commission to provide 750 million Euros of funding for member states to pilot job guarantee initiatives. This motion built on Lehner and Kasy’s work on the Marienthal Job Guarantee.
  • The UN special rapporteur's report on job guarantees – featuring the Marienthal job guarantee – went to the UN Human Rights Council on 30 June.
  • Professor Kasy presented the Marienthal study last month at an official OECD committee session on the topic of job guarantees with ministerial representatives from OECD countries.

Unemployment hurts communities, economies and families, as well as the individuals who experience it. There is a strong appetite for tools to help support unemployed people back into work in ways that treat them fairly and respect their autonomy and needs. The Marienthal experiment shows that a universal job guarantee can be a key tool for building fairer and more prosperous economies.