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Evaluating Welfare Reform Waivers under Section 1115

  • Carol Harvey
  • Michael J. Camasso
  • Radha Jagannathan
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    Beginning in 1962, Section 1115 of the Social Security Act allowed the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services to waive specific provisions of the act within individual states, allowing them to implement welfare experiments or demonstration projects to reduce welfare recipiency, ease transitions into the labor market for welfare clients, or otherwise advance the objectives of the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program. The period between 1987 and 1996 was an especially active time for welfare reform waiver applications. Each Section 1115 waiver application required a plan for evaluating the effects of the proposed changes in the AFDC program. This period of active welfare reform and experimentation, accompanied by a rigorous evaluation component, held the promise of an unparalleled opportunity to examine and document the effects of proposed welfare reform measures. In this paper we review the Section 1115 welfare reform and evaluation activity conducted by states during the Bush and Clinton administrations, ending in August 1996 when the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act was passed by Congress. We base the review on publicly available data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and on interviews we conducted with both state project managers and evaluators from each of the 44 states that had received Section 1115 welfare reform waivers between 1992 and the passage of the 1996 welfare reform act.

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    File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/jep.14.4.165
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    Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal Journal of Economic Perspectives.

    Volume (Year): 14 (2000)
    Issue (Month): 4 (Fall)
    Pages: 165-188

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    Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:14:y:2000:i:4:p:165-188
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/jep.14.4.165
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    1. Erica B. Baum, 1991. "When the witch doctors agree: The family support act and social science research," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 10(4), pages 603-615.
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    3. David Greenberg & Mark Shroder & Matthew Onstott, 1999. "The Social Experiment Market," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 13(3), pages 157-172, Summer.
    4. Irwin Garfinkel & Sara McLanahan & Kristen Harknett, 1999. "Fragile Families and Welfare Reform," JCPR Working Papers 113, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
    5. LaLonde, Robert J, 1986. "Evaluating the Econometric Evaluations of Training Programs with Experimental Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(4), pages 604-20, September.
    6. Thomas M. Fraker & Lucia A. Nixon & Jonathan E. Jacobson & Anne R. Gordon & Thomas J. Martin, 1998. "Iowa's Family Investment Program Two-Year Impacts," Mathematica Policy Research Reports a417759948f94d9cb2429ca08, Mathematica Policy Research.
    7. Gary Burtless, 1995. "The Case for Randomized Field Trials in Economic and Policy Research," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 9(2), pages 63-84, Spring.
    8. Gary Burtless & Larry L. Orr, 1986. "Are Classical Experiments Needed for Manpower Policy," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 21(4), pages 606-639.
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