How Effective Are Different Welfare-to-Work Approaches? Five-Year Adult and Child Impacts for Eleven Programs. What Works Best for Whom: Economic Effects by Subgroup


Chapters 4-6 revealed the overall effects on economic outcomes of the NEWWS programs studied. With regard to earnings, for example, employment-focused programs had larger immediate effects than education-focused programs, Portland had large and persistent effects, and education-focused programs in Detroit and Oklahoma City had relatively small effects. This chapter investigates whether some groups were affected more or less than others. In particular, program effects on average earnings, welfare benefits, and income are compared for long-term and short-term welfare recipients; those who had worked in the year prior to random assignment and those who had not; by race and ethnicity; and for groups defined by whether they faced multiple barriers to work as long-term welfare recipients, high school dropouts, or long-term unemployed.

Knowing how welfare-to-work services affect various subgroups can help in deciding where to target new resources or where to develop new services. For example, recipients who are more disadvantaged and who are likely to have the most difficulty finding a job will be particularly at risk of losing income if they lose eligibility for benefits under TANF. Programs that showed positive effects for these recipients may serve as good models under time-limited welfare.

Results for more job-ready recipients are also of interest. Programs may only have assisted these individuals to secure jobs more quickly than they would have otherwise, but have had little long-term effect. If that was the case, targeting them might have been an inefficient use of resources. On the other hand, the programs might have helped job-ready recipients find higher-quality jobs, which could very well have had substantial positive effects on their long-term earnings. The results for job-ready subgroups can inform this debate, which is likely to become more heated as states continue to try different strategies under TANF.