These welfare-to-work programs generally had few effects on household and personal circumstances. The lack of dramatic changes in outcomes such as marriage and fertility are not surprising since these programs were structured primarily to alter employment behavior rather than aimed at decreasing additional births or affecting marriage. Even so, the lives of program participants were affected in ways that are reassuringly positive: Some program group members moved to get better housing, one program increased home ownership, and nearly all LFA and HCD programs reduced reports of physical abuse. Furthermore, there were more effects on these latter outcomes than would be expected by chance. All program effects on household and personal circumstances are summarized in Table 9.1.
- Employment- and education- focused programs produced no significant effects on marriage. However, there is some evidence that program group members engaged in less-formal relationships. The Riverside LFA program increasing cohabitation by 4.6 percentage points (or by 43 percent). All other programs showed a pattern of increased rates of cohabitation, though the effects of these other programs were not statistically significant.
- There were few program impacts and no differences in effects by program approach on measures of fertility and household composition.
- Program impacts on moving and housing were concentrated in Grand Rapids. Program group members in both Grand Rapids programs were more likely to move and more than once since random assignment, primarily for better housing. The Grand Rapids HCD program also increased home ownership at the five-year follow-up. There were no significant differences between program approaches on these outcomes.
- Although there were few program impacts on many aspects of the quality of relationships, such as ever experiencing employment-related discouragement, harassment or deterrence, or nonphysical abuse, there were fewer reports of experiencing any physical abuse during the last year of follow-up for program group members than for control group members. A similar proportion of program and control group members reported experiencing harassment, abuse (physical or otherwise), or other types of employment-related discouragement or deterrence at any time in their lives. However, there were fewer reports of physical abuse, by about 4 to 6 percentage points, during the last year of follow-up for program group members than for control group members in all sites, with these effects being statistically significant in the Atlanta LFA, Grand Rapids HCD, and Riverside LFA programs. There is some evidence that program effects on increasing employment, especially effects on employment that occurred early in the follow-up period (for example, by increasing self-esteem, ameliorating family stress, or simply reducing the amount of time individuals spent with partners), and enhanced caseworker attention to support services contributed to the fewer reports of experiencing physical abuse among program group members. These effects were measured only for mothers of children who were preschool-age at study entry in the six LFA and HCD programs (the Child Outcomes Study sample).
|LFA||HCD||LFA||HCD||LFA Full||LFA In-need a||HCD|
|Marital status b|
|Separated or divorced c||D|
|Presence of a new baby||I|
Household composition b
|Lives with other adult and/or children e|
Moving and housing status
|Ever moved d||I||I|
|Moved more than once d||I||I||I||I|
|Owns a home b||I|
|Other housing b, f||I|
|Domestic abuse in prior year g,h||D||D||D||D|
NOTES: "I" indicates that the program produced a statistically significant increase in the outcome. "D" indicates a statistically significant decrease in the outcome. Blank spaces indicate that there were no impacts.