In 1994, Minnesota began a major welfare reform initiative that emphasized financial incentives for work, a participation requirement for long-term recipients, and the simplification of rules and procedures for receiving public assistance. This program, called the Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP), was initially implemented in seven counties. MDRC conducted an in-depth evaluation of MFIP's effectiveness and impact on various populations served, using a random assignment design that placed over 14,000 families in either the MFIP or the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) system. The evaluation has produced findings on participants' employment, earnings, welfare receipt, income, and other measures of children's and parents' outcomes over a three-year follow-up period for single and two-parent recipient families.(2) One of the striking findings of this evaluation was that a survey sample of two-parent recipient families in MFIP were 19.1 percentage points, or 40 percent, more likely than two-parent recipient families in AFDC to be married at the three-year follow-up point.
Under subcontract to The Lewin Group, MDRC received funding from the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, to examine the effects on marriage and divorce outcomes over a seven-year follow-up period using data from publicly available divorce and marriage certificate records for the full sample of two-parent families who were part of the MFIP pilot program. These two-parent families included those who were married at study entry as well as those who cohabited and shared a biological child.