How Effective Are Different Welfare-to-Work Approaches? Five-Year Adult and Child Impacts for Eleven Programs. Employment-Related and Domestic Abuse


Measures of employment-related and domestic abuse were collected at the five-year follow-up for sample members who were part of the Child Outcomes Study(8) via a self-administered questionnaire, a method intended to preserve the privacy of the interviewee and increase valid response rates to sensitive questions. Average rates of nonresponse on these outcomes ranged from about 4 to 10 percent for questions about employment-related abuse and from about 7 to 15 percent for more specific questions about domestic abuse.(9) Multiple measures depicting the quality of employment-related and other relationships were created, including job-related abuse that occurred at any time in a respondent's life, abuse (physical or nonphysical) by intimate partners or others at any time in a respondent's life, and abuse that occurred during the year prior to the five-year follow-up interview.

Employment-related abuse (including job discouragement, job harassment, and job deterrence) is measured over a respondent's lifetime (though individuals are likely to have experienced these employment-related aspects of abuse only as an adult when they were actually employed). Respondents were considered to have experienced job discouragement at any time in their life if they reported at least one of the following: someone ever tried to discourage them from finding a job or going to work; someone ever made them feel guilty about going to work; someone ever refused to help them or went back on promises to help with child care, transportation, or housework; someone ever made it difficult for them to attend or complete programs or classes that would help them get a good job. The measure of job harassment includes being harassed at the workplace over the telephone and/or in person. Respondents were considered to have experienced job deterrence at any time in their life if they reported that someone had ever caused them to quit or lose a job and/or someone ever prevented them from finding a job. These variables were coded as "0" for respondents reporting that they did not experience job discouragement, harassment over the phone or in person, or job deterrence.

Because individuals in program and control groups are similar at the time of random assignment in their observed and unobserved characteristics, including experience with abuse prior to random assignment, it is likely that program impacts on these "lifetime" measures will capture effects that occurred during the five-year follow-up period. Furthermore, program group members may have been more likely to experience these types of employment-related abuse during this period since these welfare-to-work programs targeted and increased employment. As a result, fewer reports of employment-related abuse for program group members than for control group members will be especially difficult to detect. Nonetheless these measures are important in providing a general picture of rates of employment-related abuse in welfare populations.

Measures of experiencing any physical or nonphysical domestic abuse were created for two points in time: at any time in the respondent's life and during the year prior to the five-year follow-up interview. Information about the timing of the most recent incident of abuse (for example, this week, a week ago, a month ago, six months ago, a year ago, or more than a year ago) was collected only for those respondents who reported any domestic abuse. Respondents were generally asked if they had experienced any of the following types of domestic abuse: being yelled at or put down on purpose, controlled, insulted, or sworn at; threatened with physical harm; hit, slapped, kicked, or otherwise physically harmed; or if "none of these things have ever happened to me." Measures of more recent domestic abuse were also created for those individuals who reported these same types of abuse in the year prior to the survey interview (for example, the most recent incident happened either the week of the survey interview or the week, month, six months, or year prior to the survey interview). For these measures of recent abuse, respondents who did not report any domestic abuse or who reported that the most recent incident occurred more than a year ago were coded as "0." The measures of more recent physical domestic abuse include being hit, slapped, kicked, or otherwise physically harmed; the measures of more recent nonphysical domestic abuse include all other types of abuse. Measures of physical abuse and nonphysical abuse are not mutually exclusive.