Cream Skimming in Employment Programmes for the Disabled? Evidence from Sweden

Reprint No. 2007:30

Author(s): Per Skedinger, and Barbro WiderstedtYear: 2007 Title: International Journal of Manpower Volume (No.): 28 (8) Pages: 694–714

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to analyse recruitment to sheltered employment for the disabled, with particular attention to cream skimming, i.e. whether the most able candidates are picked by programme organisers.
Design/methodology/approach – In this paper recruitment practices and incentive structures at the state-owned Samhall company, Sweden's main provider of sheltered employment, are discussed. An econometric analysis is performed on a random sample of 10,000 unemployed individuals, exploring the quality of the data on disability and the determinants of recruitment to the company. The findings regarding recruitment are related to Samhall's objectives.
Findings – The findings in this paper regarding cream skimming is mixed; the prioritised groups, i.e. individuals with intellectual or psychic disabilities, are more likely to be hired than some, but not all, disability groups. Individuals without disabilities tend to be recruited by the company, which suggests creaming and is contrary to the guidelines.
Research limitations/implications – The paper sees that the fact that disability tends to be difficult to define should be taken into account when recruitment practices to employment progranmles for the disabled are analysed.
Practical implications – The paper found that objectives and screening procedures in employment programmes for the disabled should be assessed carefully in order to avoid excessive cream skimming.
Originality/value – The paper shows that most studies on cream skimming do not consider programmes for the disabled, although the potential for harmful cream skimming may be larger than in mainstream programmes. Unlike previous studies the role of disability characteristics for recruitment is explicitly taken into account and these are related to prograrmne objectives.
Keywords Labour, Disabilities, Standards
Paper type Research paper

Skedinger, Per and Barbro Widerstedt (2007), "Cream Skimming in Employment Programmes for the Disabled? Evidence from Sweden". International Journal of Manpower 28(8), 694–714.

Per Skedinger


Ph: +46 8 665 4553
Mob: +46 70 486 03 89

Interdisciplinary European Studies

The European Union and the Return of the Nation State


This book explores the complex and ever-changing relationship between the European Union and its member states. The recent surge in tension in this relationship has been prompted by the actions of some member state governments as they question fundamental EU values and principles and refuse to implement common decisions seemingly on the basis of narrowly defined national interests.

About the book


Seminars organized by IFN


To present ongoing research informal brown-bag seminars are held on Mondays at 11:30 am. This is an opportunity for IFN researchers to test ideas and results.

Academically oriented seminars are most of the time held on Wednesdays at 10 am. At these events researchers from IFN and other institutions present their research.

In addition, IFN organizes seminars open to the public. Topics for these are derived from the IFN research.

Research Institute of Industrial Economics, Grevgatan 34 - 2 fl, Box 55665, SE-102 15 Stockholm, Sweden | Phone: +46-(0)8-665 45 00 | info@ifn.se