National Evaluation of Welfare-to-Work Strategies: Restricted Access and Public Use Data

11/17/2011


The National Evaluation of Welfare-to-Work Strategies (NEWWS)

Restricted Access and Public Use Data

Contents

Overview of NEWWS

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) undertook a study of the effectiveness of welfare-to-work programs:  the National Evaluation of Welfare-to-Work Strategies (NEWWS) is a study of the effectiveness of eleven mandatory welfare-to-work programs in seven locales:  Atlanta, Georgia; Columbus, Ohio; Detroit and Grand Rapids, Michigan; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Portland, Oregon; and Riverside, California. Program impacts were evaluated by comparing outcomes for a randomly assigned experimental group subject to program requirements with outcomes for control groups. As part of NEWWS, the effects of two approaches to preparing welfare recipients for employment were compared in three sites (Atlanta, Grand Rapids, and Riverside). In one approach, the human capital development approach, individuals were directed to avail themselves of education services and, to a lesser extent, occupational training before they sought work, under the theory that they would then be able to get better jobs and keep them longer. In the other approach, the labor force attachment approach, individuals were encouraged to gain quick entry into the labor market, even at low wages, under the theory that their work habits and skills would improve on the job and they would thereby be able to advance themselves. Data from all eleven sites is available.

The evaluation used a random assignment design to get reliable results. Sample members were followed for five years from the time they entered the study. Comprehensive data on economic outcomes, including information on quarterly Unemployment Insurance-reported earnings and monthly Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and Food Stamp payments was collected.  A broad range of data was collected through surveys including data on educational attainment, family composition, housing status, wage progression, employment, child care, depression, and total family income.  In addition, effects on the well-being of the children of the mothers in the study were evaluated.  Four types of child outcomes were measured: cognitive development and academic achievement; safety and health; problem behavior and emotional well-being; and social development. Assessments in each of these areas were compared across research groups two and five years after the mothers entered the survey sample.

In three of the sites (Atlanta, Grand Rapids, and Riverside) two distinct types of welfare reform strategies were compared: a labor force attachment program and a human capital development program. A broad range of data has been collected in these three sites through maternal surveys including data on educational attainment, family composition, housing status, wage progression, employment, child care, maternal depressive symptoms, total family income, children's school readiness, school achievement, and behavioral outcomes. Sample members were followed for five years from the time they entered the study. Two-year and five-year follow-up data are available. The following files are available:

  • 2-year full impact sample,
  • Two-year client survey,
  • Two-year child outcomes study survey,
  • Two-year literacy and math test scores,
  • Five-year full impact sample,
  • Five-year client survey, and
  • Five-year child outcomes study and teacher surveys.

Each file contains linked survey and administrative data. In all eleven sites, administrative data are available that include comprehensive, longitudinal data on economic outcomes, including information on quarterly Unemployment Insurance reported earnings and monthly AFDC/TANF and Food Stamp payments.

Several reports will be very helpful in understanding the NEWWS data, research methods, and results.

  • In particular, Chapter 2 of the report "Evaluating Two Welfare-to-Work Program Approaches: Two Year Findings on the Labor Force Attachment and Human Capital Development Programs in Three Sites" (prepared by Gayle Hamilton, Thomas Brock, Mary Farrell, Daniel Friedlander, and Kristen Harknett, MDRC, 1997, Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families and Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation; and U.S. Department of Education) provides detailed information on the research design, samples, and data sources.
  • In addition, Chapter 1 and Chapter 2 of "Impacts on Young Children and Their Families Two Years after Enrollment: Findings from the Child Outcomes Study" (prepared by Sharon M. McGroder, Martha J. Zaslow, Kristin A. Moore, and Suzanne M. LeMenestrel, 2000, Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation and Administration for Children and Families; and U.S. Department of Education) also provide an overview of the project and information on research design, samples, and data sources for the Child Outcomes Study.

In addition to the reports mentioned above, see [N.B. the links below are to the executive summaries of the reports]:

Executive summaries of these, and many other, reports are available on the NEWWS web site. Printed copies are available by contacting Mia Banks at Mia.Banks@hhs.gov.

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Information About the Restricted Access and Public Use Data

ASPE and ACF are making data from NEWWS available to researchers. Data for the two-year impact reports, as well as the five-year final impact report, are available. Data are available in two formats:  restricted access files and public use files. Both of these are available at the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) Research Data Center (RDC).  ASPE has established an interagency agreement with NCHS to make the restricted access data files available at the NCHS Research Data Center so researchers can access the data while preventing disclosure of confidential information. The public use data, in which certain variables have been top-coded, collapsed, and otherwise masked, are also available at the RDC. The files are organized around the reports from NEWWS:  two-year impact reports, the adult basic education report, and the final report.

Differences Between the Public Use Files and Restricted Access Files

Data that could be used to identify individual sample members were deleted or grouped into broader categories when preparing the Public Use Files. These changes (which are summarized below) primarily affect sample members' background characteristics data and outcomes measured from administrative records, although some survey responses were also changed. The original values of these data items are stored in the Restricted Access Files at the RDC. Entries in the codebooks for the Public Use Files indicate when measures have been deleted or modified.

Background Characteristics: The Public Use Files include the year but not the specific date in which a sample member was randomly assigned; and the sample member's "site" (a county or a group of counties) but not the specific location of her welfare-to-work office. Other measures grouped into larger categories, include: sample member's educational attainment, and her scores on literacy and math tests administered at random assignment.

Administrative Records: Welfare and food stamp payment data originally collected by month are summed into quarterly totals. Measures of total earnings, welfare payments, and food stamp payments have been rounded to the nearest $100. Relative dates of earnings and public assistance payments are available (Quarter 1 = quarter of random assignment), but not actual dates. [Note: Actual dates are not stored on the Restricted Access Files either, but can be inferred from the relative date and the sample member's date of random assignment.]

Survey Responses: Actual dates of survey outcomes (and the survey interview date) have been deleted, although relative dates are available (Month 1 = month of random assignment). Dollar amounts of reported monthly income have been rounded to the nearest $50.

Child Outcomes Study: The age of the "focal child" for the Child Outcomes Study has been deleted. (All focal children were between 3 and 5 years old at random assignment.)

Below is information about the restricted access data sets. (Note that some of the files below are plain text or Microsoft Word files, not HTML files and some are quite large.)

Two-Year Impacts Report Restricted Access File

Full Impact Sample

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2-Year Client Survey Files

  • General introduction to the data and documentation of the NEWWS Public Use Files (6-CD set) and offers suggestions on how to use the files.
  • Restricted Access Data File. This is the ASCII data file with responses to sections of the survey administered to all respondents (N = 9,675). It includes questions on child care for employment and a limited number of child outcomes. (More detailed information on these subjects can be found in the Child Outcomes Study Survey file.) The file also contains outcome measures created from survey responses and information on administration of the survey: interview date, mode (phone/in-person), and length. Each sample member has 18 records of data. The file is sorted by each sample member's randomly generated IDNUMBER and record number.

IMPORTANT !!!:

  1. Survey responses must be weighted to make the findings generalizable to the Full Impact Sample. The variable that weights the responses is called FIELDWGT and is included on the file. See S2SAMPLE and SIMPMEMO for details.
  2. Respondents' background characteristics and administrative records data are stored on the Full Sample Impact file.
  3. Read the 5-year data file [Not yet available], select SRV2RESP=1 (2-Year Survey respondent), and merge by IDNUMBER to get add these records to the survey file.

2-Year Child Outcomes Study (COS) Files

  • Guide to using the restricted access version of the public use files.
  • Restricted Access Data file. This is the ASCII data file with responses to sections of the survey administered to COS respondents (N = 3,018). The file includes both the original survey items from the COS modules of the Two-Year Client Survey and created variables for Child Outcomes Study: covariates used in impact calculations, subgroups, child outcomes, targeted intervening outcomes, and non-targeted intervening outcomes. Each sample member has 14 records of data. The file is sorted by each sample member's randomly generated IDNUMBER and by record number.

IMPORTANT !!!

  1. Survey responses must be weighted to make the findings generalizable to the Full Impact sample. The variable that weights the responses is called FIELDWGT and is included in the Two-Year Client Survey file. See C2COVER and SIMPMEMO for details.
  2. Respondents' additional background characteristics and administrative records data are stored on the Full Sample Impact file. Responses to additional survey questions are stored on the 2-Year Client Survey file. These data should be merged (by IDNUMBER) for the most accurate and complete analysis of program effects.

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2-Year Impacts Public Use Files

2-Year Client Survey Files

  • General introduction to the data and documentation of the NEWWS Public Use Files (6-CD set) with suggestions on how to use the files.
  • Data codebook with information on each variable. This file contains the data codebook, a comprehensive description of the raw data. For each variable on the data file the codebook provides the following information: The name of the variable and its starting and ending columns on the ASCII file, the variable's SAS informat (5.0 is the default), the variable label, a brief description of the variable and any issues with the variable. (Note: The data are stored in ASCII, so informats can be changed to conform to any statistical or econometric software package.) The codebook also displays the N, NMISS, MEAN, Standard Deviation, Minimum, and Maximum for each variable. For variables with 51 values or less, a frequency distribution is listed. The frequencies show the value labels. These may be copied and, if necessary, modified to be read into SAS or any other statistical or econometric software package.
  • Public use data file. The ASCII data file with responses to sections of the survey administered to all respondents (N = 9,675) will be made available after completing the affidavit of confidentiality. The data file includes questions on child care for employment and a limited number of child outcomes. (More detailed information on a subset of 3,018 of these subjects can be found in the Child Outcomes Study Survey file.) The file also contains outcome measures created from survey responses and information on administration of the survey: interview date, mode (phone/in-person), and length. Each sample member has 18 records of data. The file is sorted by each sample member's randomly generated IDNUMBER and record number.

IMPORTANT !!!:

  1. Survey responses must be weighted to make the findings generalizable to the Full Impact Sample. The variable that weights the responses is called FIELDWGT and is included on the file. See N2PSSAMP and N2PS_IMP for details.
  2. Respondents' background characteristics and administrative records data are stored on the Five-Year Full Sample Impact file. [Not yet available]
  3. Read the data file, N5PI1809.TXT [5-year data file not yet available], select SRV2RESP=1 (2-Year Survey respondent), and merge by IDNUMBER to add these records to the survey file.

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2-Year Child Outcomes (COS) Files

  • Contents of the COS files and documentation and important information about calculating impacts with the data set.
  • Public use data file. The ASCII data file with responses to sections of the survey administered to COS respondents has N = 3,018 will be made available after completing the affidavit of confidentiality. The data file includes both the original survey items from the COS modules of the Two-Year Client Survey and created variables for Child Outcomes Study: covariates used in impact calculations, subgroups, child outcomes, targeted intervening outcomes, and non-targeted intervening outcomes. Each sample member has 14 records of data. The file is sorted by each sample member's randomly generated IDNUMBER and by record number.

IMPORTANT !!!:

  1. Survey responses must be weighted to make the findings generalizable to the Full Impact sample. The variable that weights the responses is called FIELDWGT and is included in the Two-Year Client Survey public use data file. See C2PCOVER and N2PS_IMP for details.
  2. Respondents' additional background characteristics and administrative records data are stored on the Full Impact Sample public use data file.
  3. Most outcomes for COS respondents and a few additional outcomes for focal children are stored on the 2-Year Client Survey public use data file . These data should be merged (by IDNUMBER) with outcomes from the COS file for the most accurate and complete analysis of program effects.
  4. Scores on literacy tests administered to a subset of all COS respondents during the 2-year interview are stored on the Two-Year Literacy and Math Test Scores public use file [N.B. Not available yet]. Respondents who were also in the COS did not take the math test.

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5-Year, Public Use Files

5-Year Full Impact Files

All the files we can make available at this time are in a "zipped" archived file.  The file F5README.TXT contains a description of each file that will be included in the zipped archive. Note that some files are not yet included, namely, the tables showing impacts. These tables will become available after the final report from NEWWS is released. (That release is currently expected in January or February 2002.)  Download zipped archive file, p5fullsamp.zip [256 KB]

5-Year Client Survey

All the files we can make available at this time are in a "zipped" archived file.  The file S5PREADME.TXT contains a description of each file that will be included in the zipped archive. Note that some files are not yet included, namely, the tables showing impacts. These tables will become available after the final report from the NEWWS evaluation is released. (That release is currently expected in January or February 2002.)  Download zipped archive file, survey5p.zip [190 KB]

5-Year Child Outcomes Study (COS)

All the files we can make available at this time are in a "zipped" archived file.  The file C5PREADME.TXT contains a description of each file that will be included in the zipped archive. Additional files are included with updated information: C5COVER.TXT, C5PCOVER.TXT, C5README.TXT, and Chage169.txt. Note that some files are not yet included, namely, the tables showing impacts. These tables will become available after the final report from the NEWWS evaluation is released. (That release is currently expected in January or February 2002.)  Download zipped archive file, COS5p.zip [185 KB]

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How to Access the Data Files

ASPE has entered into an interagency agreement with the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) to facilitate placement of NEWWS files at the NCHS Research Data Center (RDC). To gain access to the restricted access data, a researcher will have to apply for the data by submitting a structured research proposal, sign an agreement not to disclose individual identities, and either come to the Research Data Center in Hyattsville, Maryland, or use a remote access (electronic) system (i.e., send SAS code through email). Applications for use of data will be reviewed and research use of the data will be monitored to prevent breaches in confidentiality and inappropriate disclosure of data. For example, the RDC does not allow researchers to print out individual observations or cells with fewer than five observations.

To gain access to the public use data, please contact Laura Chadwick at laura.chadwick@hhs.gov. There is no charge for the public use files, but the user will be required to sign an agreement not to disclose individual identities.

To support the ongoing maintenance of the restricted access files at the Research Data Center, NCHS charges researcher access fees. Currently, the RDC charges $1,000 per week for on-site access or $500  $1,000 per month for remote access, depending on the size of the files.