How Effective Are Different Welfare-to-Work Approaches? Five-Year Adult and Child Impacts for Eleven Programs. Impacts on Employment and Welfare Status Over Five Years

12/01/2001

Income is perhaps the most comprehensive measure of economic well-being, but welfare-to-work programs can also help welfare recipients attain greater self-sufficiency by helping them find jobs and leave public assistance. Table 6.2 shows the degree to which the NEWWS programs succeeded in this regard by showing outcomes and impacts for four composite measures: (1) the proportion of people who were working and not receiving welfare, (2) the proportion who combined work and welfare, (3) the proportion who were on welfare and not working, and (4) the proportion who were neither working nor receiving welfare.(12) The table reports the percentage of the five-year (or 20-quarter) follow-up that people spent on average in each employment-welfare status.

Most programs led to small increases (of less than 5 percentage points) in the likelihood that people would work without receiving welfare (Table 6.2, first panel). The Portland program produced the largest impact, an increase of 7.3 percentage points above the control group level. Except in Riverside, programs did not affect the likelihood that sample members would combine work and welfare (Table 6.2, second panel). The increase for the Riverside programs probably reflects their overall gains in employment and the relatively high grant levels and generous earnings disregards in California.(13)

 

Table 6.2
Impacts on Percentage of Five-Year Follow-Up That People Spent in Each Employment-Welfare Status

Site and Program

Sample Size Program Group (%) Control Group (%) Difference (Impact) Percentage Change (%)

Employed and not on welfare

Atlanta Labor Force Attachment 2,938 24.2 21.4 2.8 *** 13.1
Atlanta Human Capital Development 2,992 23.8 21.4 2.4 ** 11.2
Grand Rapids Labor Force Attachment 3,012 29.4 27.1 2.3 ** 8.6
Grand Rapids Human Capital Development 2,997 28.6 27.1 1.5 5.4
Riverside Labor Force Attachment 6,726 19.5 17.3 2.2 *** 12.9
Lacked high school diploma or basic skills 3,125 15.8 13.8 2.1 *** 15.2
Riverside Human Capital Development 3,135 14.8 13.8 1.1 7.8
Columbus Integrated 4,672 35.1 30.3 4.8 *** 15.8
Columbus Traditional 4,729 33.2 30.3 2.9 *** 9.4
Detroit 4,459 21.6 19.7 1.9 *** 9.5
Oklahoma City 8,677 n/a n/a n/a n/a
Portland 4,028 35.1 27.8 7.3 *** 26.4

Employed and on welfare

Atlanta Labor Force Attachment 2,938 18.5 17.5 1.0 5.5
Atlanta Human Capital Development 2,992 17.8 17.5 0.3 1.7
Grand Rapids Labor Force Attachment 3,012 19.7 18.4 1.3 ** 7.1
Grand Rapids Human Capital Development 2,997 18.7 18.4 0.3 1.6
Riverside Labor Force Attachment 6,726 14.3 10.8 3.5 *** 32.2
Lacked high school diploma or basic skills 3,125 14.0 9.7 4.2 *** 43.5
Riverside Human Capital Development 3,135 12.6 9.7 2.8 *** 29.0
Columbus Integrated 4,672 16.1 18.7 -2.7 *** -14.2
Columbus Traditional 4,729 17.4 18.7 -1.3 *** -7.2
Detroit 4,459 19.8 20.5 -0.7 -3.2
Oklahoma City 8,677 n/a n/a n/a *** n/a
Portland 4,028 12.1 11.2 0.9 7.9

Not employed and on welfare

Atlanta Labor Force Attachment 2,938 42.0 47.4 -5.4 *** -11.4
Atlanta Human Capital Development 2,992 44.1 47.4 -3.3 *** -6.9
Grand Rapids Labor Force Attachment 3,012 29.4 37.2 -7.8 *** -21.0
Grand Rapids Human Capital Development 2,997 32.4 37.2 -4.8 *** -12.9
Riverside Labor Force Attachment 6,726 35.0 43.7 -8.6 *** -19.8
Lacked high school diploma or basic skills 3,125 39.3 48.5 -9.3 *** -19.1
Riverside Human Capital Development 3,135 40.4 48.5 -8.1 *** -16.7
Columbus Integrated 4,672 26.4 29.7 -3.3 *** -11.1
Columbus Traditional 4,729 27.3 29.7 -2.4 *** -8.2
Detroit 4,459 43.4 45.5 -2.1 ** -4.5
Oklahoma City n/a n/a n/a n/a *** n/a
Portland 4,028 24.9 34.8 -9.9 *** -28.4

Not employed and not on welfare

Atlanta Labor Force Attachment 2,938 15.4 13.7 1.6 * 12.0
Atlanta Human Capital Development 2,992 14.3 13.7 0.6 4.3
Grand Rapids Labor Force Attachment 3,012 21.5 17.3 4.2 *** 24.2
Grand Rapids Human Capital Development 2,997 20.3 17.3 3.0 *** 17.5
Riverside Labor Force Attachment 6,726 31.2 28.2 2.9 *** 10.4
Lacked high school diploma or basic skills 3,125 30.9 28.0 2.9 *** 10.5
Riverside Human Capital Development 3,135 32.2 28.0 4.2 *** 15.0
Columbus Integrated 4,672 22.4 21.2 1.1 5.4
Columbus Traditional 4,729 22.1 21.2 0.9 4.2
Detroit 4,459 15.2 14.4 0.8 5.9
Oklahoma City n/a n/a n/a n/a *** n/a
Portland 4,028 27.9 26.3 1.6 6.3
SOURCE:В  MDRC calculations from state and county administrative records.
NOTES: See Appendix A.1.

The largest change for most programs was in the likelihood that people would rely on welfare without working (Table 6.2, third panel). In general, employment-focused programs produced the largest reductions in the proportion of follow-up quarters not employed and on welfare. The Portland employment-focused program produced the largest impact among all programsВ  9.9 percentage points below the control group level. The three LFA programs led to reductions in this status of between 5.4 percentage points (Atlanta) and 8.6 percentage points (Riverside). Among education-focused programs, only Riverside HCD led to a comparable reduction. All other education-focused programs (including Atlanta and Grand Rapids HCD) decreased the proportion of follow-up quarters not employed and on welfare by less than 5 percentage points.

Finally, five programs (the three LFA programs and Grand Rapids and Riverside HCD) led to small but statistically significant increases in the proportion of follow-up quarters not employed and not on welfare. These programs probably encouraged some people to leave welfare for reasons other than employment. Notably, the LFA and HCD programs in Grand Rapids and Riverside also led to the largest reductions in combined income.

The proportion of follow-up quarters that program group members spent neither working nor receiving welfare (Table 6.1, fourth panel) ranged from about 15 percent in Atlanta and Detroit to more than 30 percent in Riverside. These program group members may have experienced severe financial hardship during the follow-up period. However, it is important to keep in mind the measure includes only income from earnings and welfare. It does not include income from Food Stamps(14) or other forms of public assistance, income of other household members, or earnings from jobs that were out of state or not reported to the state's UI earnings system.(15)