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Five Years After

Five Years After: The Long-Term Effects of Welfare-to-Work Programs

Copyright Date: 1995
Published by: Russell Sage Foundation
Pages: 244
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  • Book Info
    Five Years After
    Book Description:

    Friedlander and Burtless teach us why welfare reform will not be easy. Their sobering assessment of job training programs willenlighten a debate too often dominated by wishful thinking and political rhetoric. Look for their findings to be cited for many years to come. -Douglas Besharov, American Enterprise Institute

    A methodologically astute study that sheds considerable light on the potential for and limits to raising the employment and earnings of welfare recipients and provides benchmarks against which the impacts of later programs can be compared. -Journal of Economic Literature

    With welfare reforms tested in almost every state and plans for a comprehensive federal overall on the horizon, it is increasingly important for Americans to understand how policy changes are likely to affect the lives of welfare recipients.Five Years Aftertells the story of what happened to the welfare recipients who participated in the influential welfare-to-work experiments conducted by several states in the mid-1980s.The authors review the distinctive goals and procedures of evaluations performed in Arkansas, Baltimore, San Diego, and Virginia, and then examine five years of follow-up data to determine whether the initial positive impact on employment, earnings, and welfare costs held up over time. The results were surprisingly consistent. Low-cost programs that saved money by getting individuals into jobs quickly did little to reduce poverty in the long run. Only higher-cost educational programs enabled welfare recipients to hold down jobs successfully and stay off welfare.

    Five Years Afterends speculation about the viability of the first generation of employment programs for welfare recipients, delineates the hard choices that must be made among competing approaches, and provides a well-documented foundation for building more comprehensive programs for the next generation. A sobering tale for welfare reformers of all political persuasions, this book poses a serious challenge to anyone who promises to end welfare dependency by cutting welfare budgets.

    eISBN: 978-1-61044-226-8
    Subjects: Sociology, Business

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface and Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-xii)
    Daniel Friedlander and Gary Burtless
  4. 1 Findings of This Study
    (pp. 1-36)

    Strong interest by the public and the states and by Congress and the Clinton administration has placed welfare reform high on the national agenda. At the same time, the implementation of the Family Support Act (FSA) of 1988, including the Job Opportunities and Basic Skills Training (JOBS) Program, has raised pointed questions about ways to improve the effectiveness of employment and training programs for recipients of Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), the nation’s largest cash welfare program. This study addresses some of these questions using data from four social experiments designed to test the effectiveness of alternative welfare-to-work...

  5. 2 Goals of This Study
    (pp. 37-44)

    Since the late 1960s, a central goal of U.S. welfare policy has been to increase employment among working-age welfare recipients. As discussed in Chapter 1, the Family Support Act (FSA) of 1988, for example, created the JOBS program to provide education and training, work experience, and assistance in finding unsubsidized work in the regular labor market to persons applying to or receiving help in the AFDC program. Like the welfare-to-work programs that preceded it, JOBS provides authority for states to require participation among eligible, able-bodied members of the AFDC caseload. The law permits states to reduce AFDC payments to JOBS...

  6. 3 Analysis Issues, Programs, Data
    (pp. 45-68)

    In this chapter, we provide the basics for understanding the research projects analyzed in this study. We begin by explaining the social experiment research methodology that was used to estimate program impacts. We then discuss the nature of broad coverage, which was a central feature of all of the programs that were evaluated. We proceed with a detailed description of the programs under study. Next, we devote some attention to the duration issue, which stems from the availability of program services for control sample members after the end of the formal experiment in each site. We follow up with a...

  7. 4 Program Impacts on Earnings and AFDC
    (pp. 69-102)

    This chapter presents estimates of impacts on employment, earnings, AFDC receipt, and AFDC payments for the four programs. These estimates of “average impact per experimental sample member” constitute the basic findings for these programs. The first section contains a discussion of the program goals against which the program effects must be assessed. After that, we describe the typical patterns of employment and AFDC receipt in the absence of the programs. This preliminary analysis suggests what kinds of changes in behavior might be possible or important. We then look at a set of impact estimates covering the full follow-up period available...

  8. 5 Patterns of Employment and Earnings
    (pp. 103-148)

    In this chapter we examine the nature of program effects on employment and earnings with some care. We are interested in establishing why the program impact occurred at each site and what might explain the distinctive patterns of earnings impacts across the four sites. The findings in the previous chapter clearly indicate that earnings impacts occurred in all four sites, but they do not show whether the kinds of jobs obtained by members of the experimental group differed from those obtained by members of the control group. In particular, it is not clear whether the programs speeded up job finding,...

  9. 6 AFDC Case Closure and AFDC Recidivism
    (pp. 149-190)

    This chapter analyzes program impacts on AFDC receipt. We examine three aspects of AFDC receipt: AFDC grant levels, exit from AFDC, and reentry to the rolls (i.e., AFDC recidivism). The analysis is similar in style to the earlier examination of program impacts on employment and earnings. The discussion is somewhat simpler, however, because the programs had very minor effects on average grant levels. Hence, our main concern is in tracing out the effects of the programs on welfare exit and reentry. In discussing “AFDC exit,” we use that term interchangeably with “case closure,” “departure,” and “termination.” We include as exits...

  10. 7 Interpreting the Empirical Findings
    (pp. 191-208)

    In this chapter, we provide some interpretation of the empirical results and discuss the implications for welfare employment policy. We do not believe our conclusions are definitive and final. We have examined only four evaluations, although we implicitly bring to our interpretation a wider knowledge of other program evaluation results. Data for newer programs and long-term follow-up data for more of the 1980s evaluations might reinforce or contradict the conclusions we draw here. Nevertheless, the empirical findings and our interpretation of them can contribute to the growing body of knowledge about the effects of welfare-to-work programs and can point out...

  11. References
    (pp. 209-212)
  12. Appendix
    (pp. 213-216)
  13. Index
    (pp. 217-230)