Upjohn Institute Press

Pages: 507
Year Published: 
2010
$45.00 cloth
ISBN: 978-0-88099-365-4
$25.00 paper
ISBN: 978-0-88099-364-7

Solving the Reemployment Puzzle: From Research to Policy

Stephen A. Wandner

" Winner of the Richard A. Lester Prize for the Outstanding Book in Labor Economics and Industrial Relations published in 2010—Princeton University, Industrial Relations Section.

“As the political tides ebb and flow, Stephen Wandner remains at the heart of American workforce policyhe serves as not just the institutional memory of the Employment and Training Administration, but its conscience as well. This book traces decades' worth of research and experimentation on reemployment. It is scrupulously objective, painstakingly thorough, and (if you have the right attitude about the application of intellectual honesty to making America greater) rather thrilling.”
–John D. Donahue, Harvard Kennedy School; former Assistant Secretary of Labor "

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Winner of the Richard A. Lester Prize for the Outstanding Book in Labor Economics and Industrial Relations published in 2010—Princeton University, Industrial Relations Section.


This book provides a detailed insider's view under the Clinton and Bush administrations of the process by which eight social science experiments influenced federal laws and policies to alleviate joblessness in the United States. These experiments, each of which focused on returning unemployed workers to work, are analyzed through their entire policy process: experiment initiation, implementation, and evaluation; policy development; legislative enactment; program development; and program implementation.

Stephen Wandner also reveals that such rigorous scientific research can, but sometimes doesn't, influence federal workforce policy and legislation. For research to affect public policy, political leaders must commit to funding, conducting, and using research. Implementing research findings requires that government officials at the national, state, and local levels be supportive of the research results and use them to develop new and innovative programs and processes.

When policymakers use research results as a prominent ingredient in policymaking, they are more likely to develop cost-effective policy that works. However, when the impartial research is not conducted or the research results are ignored or misused, policy, programs, and ultimately workers suffer.


“Steve Wandner writes insightfully from his uniquely intimate vantage point inside the U.S. Department of Labor while also drawing on his extensive interactions with top researchers, program officials, congressional staff, the OMB, and the White House. He shares his play-by-play analysis of just how and where rigorous research succeeded in driving policy and, importantly, where it did not, and where it was suppressed or badly misused. Solving the Reemployment Puzzle should be read by every current—and would-be—researcher and policymaker. Its a great read.”
–Christopher T. King, Director, Ray Marshall Center for the Study of Human Resources, University of Texas at Austin

“This is a rich, thoughtful, and highly readable story about real-life social experimentation—what was done, what was learned, and what was and wasnt used in government. It will be of great value to social scientists and employment policy experts. It should have a permanent place in the literature of applied social science.”
–Richard Nathan, Director Emeritus, Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government, State University of New York at Albany

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