Skip to main content
×
×
Home

A Synthesis of Random Assignment Benefit-Cost Studies of Welfare-to-Work Programs

  • David H. Greenberg, Victoria Deitch and Gayle Hamilton
Abstract

Over the past two decades, federal and state policymakers have dramatically reshaped the nation’s system of cash welfare assistance for low-income families. During this period, there has been considerable variation from state to state in approaches to welfare reform, which are often collectively referred to as “welfare-to-work programs.” This article synthesizes an extraordinary body of evidence: results from 28 benefit-cost studies of welfare-to-work programs based on random assignment evaluation designs. Each of the 28 programs can be viewed as a test of one of six types of welfare reform approaches: mandatory work experience programs, mandatory job-search-first programs, mandatory education-first programs, mandatory mixed-initial-activity programs, earnings supplement programs, and time-limit-mix programs. After describing how benefit-cost studies of welfare-to-work programs are conducted and considering some limitations of these studies, the synthesis addresses such questions as: Which welfare reform program approaches yield a positive return on investments made, from the perspective of program participants and from the perspective of government budgets, and the perspective of society as a whole? Which approaches make program participants better off financially? In which approaches do benefits exceed costs from the government’s point of view? The last two of these questions coincide with the trade-off between reducing dependency on government benefits and ensuring adequate incomes for low-income families. Because the benefit-cost studies examined program effects from the distinct perspectives of government budgets and participants’ incomes separately, they address this trade-off directly. The article thus uses benefit-cost findings to aid in assessing the often complex trade-offs associated with balancing the desire to ensure the poor of adequate incomes and yet encourage self-sufficiency.

    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      A Synthesis of Random Assignment Benefit-Cost Studies of Welfare-to-Work Programs
      Available formats
      ×
      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      A Synthesis of Random Assignment Benefit-Cost Studies of Welfare-to-Work Programs
      Available formats
      ×
      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      A Synthesis of Random Assignment Benefit-Cost Studies of Welfare-to-Work Programs
      Available formats
      ×
Copyright
References
Hide All
Ashworth, Karl, Cebulla, Andreas, Greenberg, David, and Walker, Robert. 2004. “Meta-evaluation: Discovering What Works Best in Welfare Provision,” Evaluation 10, 2: 193-216.
Bloom, Dan, Kemple, James, Morris, Pamela, Scrivener, Susan, Verma, Nandita, and Hendra, Richard, with Adams-Ciardullo, Diana, Seith, David, and Walter, Johanna. 2000. The Family Transition Program: Final Report on Florida’s Initial Time-Limited Welfare Program. New York: MDRC.
Bloom, Dan, and Michalopoulos, Charles. 2001. How Welfare and Work Policies Affect Employment and Income: A Synthesis of Research. New York: MDRC.
Bloom, Dan, Scrivener, Sue, Michalopoulos, Charles, Morris, Pamela, Hendra, Richard, Adams-Ciardullo, Dianna, and Walter, Johanna, with Vargas, Wanda. 2002. Jobs First: Final Report on Connecticut’s Welfare Reform Initiative. New York: MDRC.
Boardman, Anthony, Greenberg, David, Vining, Aidan, and Weimer, David. 2006. Cost-Benefit Analysis: Concepts and Practice, 3rd ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Ford, Reuben, Gyarmati, David, Foley, Kelly, and Tattrie, Doug, with Jimenez, Liza. 2003. Can Work Incentives Pay for Themselves? Final Report on the Self-Sufficiency Project for Welfare Applicants. Ottawa: Social Research and Demonstration Corporation.
Freedman, Stephen, Knab, Jean Tansey Gennetian, Lisa A., and Navarro, David. 2000. The Los Angeles Jobs-First GAIN Evaluation: Final Report on a Work First Program in a Major Urban Center. New York: MDRC.
Friedlander, Daniel, Erickson, Marjorie, Hamilton, Gayle, and Knox, Virginia. 1986. West Virginia: Final Report on the Community Work Experience Demonstrations. New York: MDRC.
Friedlander, Daniel, Freedman, Stephen, Hamilton, Gayle, and Quint, Janet. 1987. Final Report on Job Search and Work Experience in Cook County. New York: MDRC.
Friedlander, Daniel, and Hamilton, Gayle. 1993. The Saturation Work Initiative Model in San Diego: A Five-Year Follow-Up Study. New York: MDRC.
Goldman, Barbara, Friedlander, Daniel, and Long, David. 1986. Final Report on the San Diego Job Search and Work Experience Demonstration. New York: MDRC.
Greenberg, David, 1997. “The Leisure Bias in Cost-Benefit Analyses of Employment and Training Programs,” The Journal of Human Resources 32, 2: 413-439.
Greenberg, David, Ashworth, Karl, Cebulla, Andreas, and Walker, Robert. 2004. “Do Welfare-to-Work Programmes Work for Long?Fiscal Studies 25, 1: 27-53.
Greenberg, David, Ashworth, Karl, Cebulla, Andreas, and Walker, Robert. 2005. “When Welfare-to-Work Programs Seem to Work Well: Explaining Why Riverside and Portland Shine So Brightly,” Industrial and Labor Relations Review 58, 1: 34-50.
Greenberg, David, Deitch, Victoria, and Hamilton, Gayle. 2009. Welfare-to-Work Program Benefits and Costs: A Synthesis of Research. New York: MDRC.
Grogger, Jeffrey, and Karoly, Lynn A.. 2005. Welfare Reform: Effects of a Decade of Change. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Hamilton, Gayle, Freedman, Stephen, Gennetian, Lisa, Michalopoulos, Charles, Walter, Johanna, Adams-Ciardullo, Diana, Gassman-Pines, Anna, McGroder, Sharon, Zaslow, Martha, Brooks, Jennifer, and Ahluwalia, Surjeet. 2001. How Effective Are Different Welfare-to-Work Approaches? Five-Year Adult and Child Impacts for Eleven Programs. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Education.
Hardin, Einar and Borus, Michael E.. 1969. Economic Benefits and Costs of Retraining Courses in Michigan. East Lansing, MI: School of Labor and Industrial Relations, Michigan State University.
Kemper, Peter, Long, David A., and Thornton, Craig. 1981. The Supported Work Evaluation: Final Benefit-Cost Analysis. New York: MDRC.
Kemple, James, Friedlander, Daniel, and Fellerath, Veronica. 1995. Florida’s Project Independence: Benefits, Costs, and Two-Year Impacts of Florida’s JOBS Program. New York: MDRC.
Michalopoulos, Charles. 2005. Does Making Work Pay Still Pay? An Update on the Effects of Four Earnings Supplement Programs on Employment, Earnings, and Income. New York: MDRC.
Michalopoulos, Charles, Tattrie, Doug, Miller, Cynthia, Robins, Phillip K., Morris, Pamela, Gyarmati, David, Redcross, Cindy, Foley, Kelly, and Ford, Reuben. 2002. Making Work Pay: Final Report on the Self-Sufficiency Project for Long-Term Recipients. Ottawa: Social Research and Demonstration Corporation.
Miller, Cynthia, Knox, Virginia, Gennetian, Lisa A., Dodoo, Martey, Hunter, Jo Anna, and Redcross, Cindy. 2000. Reforming Welfare and Rewarding Work: Final Report on the Minnesota Family Investment Program, Vol. 1: Effects on Adults. New York: MDRC.
Moffitt, Robert. 1983. “An Economic Model of Welfare Stigma,” American Economic Review 73: 1023-35.
Morris, Pamela A., Gennetian, Lisa A., and Duncan, Greg J.. 2005. “Effects of Welfare and Employment Policies on Young Children: New Findings on Policy Experiments Conducted in the Early 1990s.” Social Policy Report 19, 2. New York: MDRC.
Morris, Pamela A., Huston, Aletha C., Duncan, Greg J., Crosby, Danielle A., and Bos, Johannes. 2001. How Welfare and Work Policies Affect Children: A Synthesis of Research. New York: MDRC.
Riccio, James A., Friedlander, Daniel, and Freedman, Stephen, with Farrell, Mary E., Fellerath, Veronica, Fox, Stacey, and Lehman, Daniel J.. 1994. GAIN: Benefits, Costs, and Three-Year Impacts of a Welfare-to-Work Program. New York: MDRC.
Scrivener, Susan, Hendra, Richard, Redcross, Cindy, Bloom, Dan, Michalopoulos, Charles, and Walter, Johanna. 2002. WRP: Final Report on Vermont’s Welfare Restructuring Project. New York: MDRC.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Journal of Benefit-Cost Analysis
  • ISSN: 2194-5888
  • EISSN: 2152-2812
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-benefit-cost-analysis
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Keywords:

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 64 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 134 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 23rd April 2018. This data will be updated every 24 hours.