How Effective Are Different Welfare-to-Work Approaches? Five-Year Adult and Child Impacts for Eleven Programs. Comparing High School Graduates and Nongraduates

12/01/2001

As discussed in Chapter 4, employment- and education-focused programs were expected to have different effects on employment and earnings depending on whether people were job-ready or in need of more education. There are also reasons to expect welfare-to-work programs to produce different amounts of welfare savings for the two groups. High school nongraduates received higher welfare benefits on average than graduates, probably because they have a harder time finding work.(10) Welfare savings may therefore be larger for high school nongraduates than for graduates. When they do go to work, however, graduates are likely to earn more than nongraduates, and are probably more likely to find jobs that pay enough to help them leave welfare. A program that is just as likely to help high school graduates as nongraduates find work may therefore produce larger welfare savings for graduates.

Figure 5.2 explores these possibilities by comparing program effects on welfare benefits over five years separately for high school graduates and nongraduates. According to the figure, there is little evidence that the programs reduced benefits more for one group than the other (just as there was little evidence in Chapter 4 that the programs were systematically affecting earnings more for one group than the other). Over five years, virtually all of the programs reduced welfare payments for both subgroups. Moreover, in five of the nine programs where effects could be measured over five years, they were larger for high school nongraduates than graduates (both Grand Rapids programs, both Columbus programs, and Riverside LFA), but in the other four programs effects were larger for graduates than for nongraduates (both Atlanta programs, Detroit, and Portland).

Figure 5.2
Impacts on Total Welfare Payments in Years 1 to 5 for Sample Members With and Without a Hign school Diploma or GED at Random Assignment

Impacts on Total Welfare Payments in Years 1 to 5 for Sample Members With and Without a Hign school Diploma or GED at Random Assignment

Impacts on Total Welfare Payments in Years 1 to 5 for Sample Members With and Without a Hign school Diploma or GED at Random Assignment

SOURCE:  MDRC calculations from state and county administrative records.
NOTES:  See Appendix A.1.