Performance Improvement 2006. Meta-Analysis of Welfare-to-Work Programs


This study is a meta-analysis of 31 Welfare-to-Work (WtW) evaluations of demonstrations carried out in the 1980s and 90s. This meta-analysis attempted to determine how the observed impacts were affected by the various components of the treatment, such as job search or sanctions. It also attempted to control for participant and site characteristics. Major findings include the following: (1) On average, WtW programs had the intended positive impacts although they were modest in size and there was considerable variation in results; (2) The components of WtW interventions that appeared to have the clearest positive impacts were job search, time limits, and sanctions; (3) The components of WtW interventions that involve education and work experience showed no clear impact one way or the other;

(2)  Time limits tended to reduce caseloads, but had no clear impact on earnings; (5) Impacts appeared  to have been greater for those more disadvantaged in terms of recent work history and time spent receiving benefits; (6) Positive impacts on recipients appear to have been greatest in the first couple of years after treatment; (7) For children, impacts on behavioral and emotional outcomes were less positive for school-age children than for younger children, though all impacts were, on average, very modest. Some caveats to keep in mind in interpreting the results of this study include: (1) The analysis was limited in the number of explanatory variables that could be included, and this could have biased the results in ways that cannot be known; (2) In particular, only variables which indicated whether a service was received and not variables indicating the intensity of service were included; (3) These results are mostly based on conditions under the Aid to Families and Dependent Children (AFDC) program and may not be applicable to the current Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) environment; (4) A meta-analysis combines data from different demonstrations which may not be strictly comparable.  tw/meta_title.html

PIC ID: 8210; Agency Sponsor: ACF-OPRE, Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation; Federal Contact: Sternbach, Leonard, 415-437-7671; Performer: University of Maryland, School of Social Work, Baltimore, MD

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