How Effective Are Different Welfare-to-Work Approaches? Five-Year Adult and Child Impacts for Eleven Programs. Measurement Issues


This chapter estimates effects on income and self-sufficiency using administrative records and data from the Five-Year Client Survey. As discussed in Chapter 2, each of these data sources has its advantages and limitations. Measures of employment and welfare status and income are calculated from statewide unemployment insurance (UI) earnings records and welfare and Food Stamp payment records for all sample members. Estimates based on these administrative records are useful because they include everyone, cover the entire follow-up period, and likely include the primary sources of income received by most sample members.(2) However, these estimates leave out other potentially important sources of income, including earnings not reported to the UI system, child support, other types of transfer payments, income from other household members (from earnings, public assistance, or other sources), or income from family and friends who live outside the household. Therefore, on the basis of administrative records alone some sample members may be incorrectly classified as not employed or as having no income. The Five-Year Client Survey includes these other sources of earnings and income, but for a much smaller group of sample members and for only one month at the end of year 5. Further, like all survey-based data, reported earnings and income are subject to recall error, nonreporting, and exaggeration.

Finally, it should be kept in mind that this analysis does not consider program effects on work-related expenses (such as out-of-pocket expenses for child care and transportation), which decrease the income of sample members and their households.(3)