Long-Term Effects of the Minnesota Family Investment Program on Marriage and Divorce Among Two-Parent Families


In 1994, Minnesota began testing a major welfare reform initiative that emphasized financial incentives for work, a participation requirement for long-term recipients, and the simplification of rules and procedures for receiving public assistance. MDRC conducted an in-depth evaluation of the Minnesota Family Investment Program's effectiveness and impact on various populations served. One of the striking findings of that evaluation was that a survey sample of two-parent recipient families assigned to MFIP were 19.1 percentage points, or 40 percent, more likely to be married at the three-year follow-up point than two-parent recipient families assigned to AFDC. ASPE funded further MDRC work to examine the effects on divorce and marriage outcomes over a seven-year follow-up period to determine if these effects on marriage held up over time and to examine effects for subgroups. This report presents the results of this further analysis and indicates that the pilot MFIP program that began in 1994 continued to have effects on rates of divorce for two-parent families seven years after they entered the study. The findings represent some of the best evidence to date about the potential for welfare policies to affect marital stability among two-parent families.

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