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Reforming Public Welfare

Reforming Public Welfare: A Critique of the Negative Income Tax Experiment

Copyright Date: 1976
Published by: Russell Sage Foundation
Pages: 208
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  • Book Info
    Reforming Public Welfare
    Book Description:

    Shows what happens when a specific social policy is tried out on an experimental basis prior to being enacted into law. By providing a trial of a variety of negative income tax plans carried out over a three-year period in four communities, the New Jersey-Pennsylvania Income Maintenance Experiment was designed to observe whether income maintenance would lead to reduced work effort on the part of those who received subsidies. This book evaluates the final project reportso n the experiment issued by Mathematica, Inc. and the Institute for Reasearch on Poverty at the University of Wisconsin.

    A Publication in the Continuities in Evaluation Research Series.

    eISBN: 978-1-61044-480-4
    Subjects: Law, Political Science, Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-2)
    Peter H. Rossi and Katharine C. Lyall
  4. Chapter 1 Introduction: Background to the NIT Experiment
    (pp. 3-12)

    Although both are officially over, the two wars pursued by the administration of President Lyndon Johnson linger on. The scars of the Vietnam war will mark that country for some time to come, and poverty persists even though the headquarters of the War on Poverty, the Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO), has been closed. Our country will never quite be the same for its participation in these wars: The heritage of Vietnam has been a demystification of our institutions and that of the War on Poverty, a greatly expanded welfare sector in our federal, state, and local governments.

    The War...

  5. Chapter 2 Designing the NIT Experiment
    (pp. 13-44)

    Since the design of an experiment is so critical to the interpretation of its findings, we will devote this chapter to laying out the considerations that went into the design of the NIT Experiment. We will pay a great deal of attention to the controversy (briefly described in the previous chapter) that arose within the research group over several crucial design issues. The design controversy is a particularly valuable focus since so many of the issues in question lie at the heart of a much larger issue, namely, the generalizability of the empirical findings of NIT.

    The particular resolutions of...

  6. Chapter 3 Fielding and Administering the NIT Experiment
    (pp. 45-62)

    Since the development of techniques for the sampling of human populations in the 1930s, sample surveys covering a wide variety of topics administered to very diverse sets of universes have become a standard tool for the gathering of social data for social science and policy purposes. A field experiment of the sort contemplated by IRP and Mathematica had many points of resemblance to panel sample surveys: A specified population was to be sampled, recruited to participate, and periodically contacted by interviewers for the purpose of obtaining information.

    The NIT field operations differed from the more usual sample survey in several...

  7. Chapter 4 Defining the Experimental Treatments
    (pp. 63-86)

    In the early, pre-experiment discussions of negative income tax proposals, only superficial attention was given to the administration of such plans. Milton Friedman envisaged at first an annual settling of accounts with families whose annual income tax returns showed them eligible for payments receiving a check covering payments for the annual accounting period involved. A later proposal by Friedman suggested that eligible families be sent payments on the basis of filing an estimated income for a tax year.

    Other accounts of proposed negative income tax plans were agnostic about how the plans were to be administered although there was considerable...

  8. Chapter 5 Measurement of the Dependent Variables in Analyses of the Labor Supply Response
    (pp. 87-106)

    Measures of the labor supply response of NIT families form the basic data from which estimates of experimental effects were constructed. The quality of the data obtained in raw form from the families and the ways in which such data were transformed into indices and constructed variables are obviously crucial to an evaluation of the NIT Experiment. It is to these issues that this chapter is devoted.

    The labor force responses of the NIT families were derived from three raw data series.

    Family income:Earnings of individual wage earners plus other sources of income, collected quarterly in family interviews.


  9. Chapter 6 Findings: Labor Supply Response
    (pp. 107-132)

    There are at least three reasons why major interest in the experiment was focused on the labor supply response of NIT recipients: 1) the need to address a series of political-moral objections to guaranteed income plans that reflected the fear that the work ethic would be undermined; 2) the desire to make a realistic estimate of program costs of a national NIT; and 3) a desire for technical information on differential response to various parameters, information deemed useful for rationalizing the designs of future welfare programs. Emphasis on one or another theme varied with the particular population subgroup under scrutiny...

  10. Chapter 7 Non-Labor Supply Experimental Responses
    (pp. 133-156)

    Although the central issue in the NIT Experiment was the labor supply response to experimental treatments, the experiment also covered a variety of additional possible responses, some seemingly very far removed from labor supply issues. The variety of subsidiary topics covered defies positive classification: hence the title of this chapter indicating that it covers the residual category formed by non-labor supply response measures.

    The design of the experiment reflects the centrality of labor force response as the focus of the NIT Experiment. So does the composition of the research team with the main positions of authority and responsibility going to...

  11. Chapter 8 The External and Internal “Politics” of the Experiment
    (pp. 157-174)

    All large-scale, policy oriented research projects are conducted within a political context, and all research operations create their own internal political systems. The context for a research project includes the organizations within which the project is embedded, the relations with sponsors and sources of funds, audiences that are willing or not willing to learn of results, and sometimes even the subjects of the research or their organized representatives. For large-scale, policy oriented research sponsored by a controversial government agency, these elements of context impinge with particular force. The NIT project was no exception: There were several instances when the project...

  12. Chapter 9 An Overview Evaluation of the NIT Experiment
    (pp. 175-192)

    The central purpose of this final chapter is to bring together the analyses made in the body of this volume to arrive at an overall evaluation of the NIT Experiment. We embark upon this enterprise with considerable ambivalence: As we noted in the opening chapter, there is much to admire in the boldness of the experimenters in venturing upon what history will undoubtedly regard as one of the major “firsts” in policy related empirical social research, in their unflagging devotion to carrying out a long-term research endeavor, and in the technical skills with which the resulting data were handled. Nothing...

  13. INDEX
    (pp. 193-197)