Targeted Help for the Hard-to-Employ: Outcomes of Two Philadelphia Welfare-to-Work Programs. Summary


We used multiple methods  OLS regression, fixed-effects regression, and propensity scoring  to attempt to control for differences in the characteristics of TWC and RSC participants(both observed and unobserved) and other factors likely to have contributed to their differences in outcomes.  These regression adjustments reduced the TWC-RSC differences in employment, earnings, and TANF receipt but did not erase them completely.  The inclusion of a program completion term  to capture additional unobserved participant characteristics  further reduced the difference in outcomes.  In a strategy analogous to propensity scoring, we also restricted our analysis to RSC noncompleters, who were very similar to TWC participants along observable characteristics and who, in theory, should have been referred to the TWC.  This analysis revealed that, regardless of which program they were involved in, TWC participants (in general) and RSC noncompleters fared similarly over time.  Marked differences in the regression-adjusted outcomes of RSC noncompleters, TWC completers, and TWC noncompleters suggest, however, that important, unmeasured differences remain unaccounted for in our study.  Hence, we are unable to reach definitive conclusions about the effects of these programs.  The potential benefits of subsidized work experience relative to direct placement in unsubsidized employment for the hard to employ can be assessed only through a randomized trial of such programs.

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