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Did Canadian welfare reform work? The effects of new reform strategies on social assistance participation

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  • Nathan Berg
  • Todd Gabel

Abstract

This paper measures the extent to which declines in social assistance (SA) participation were associated with novel and aggressive reforms referred to as new reform strategies: work requirements, diversion, earning exemptions and time limits. Controlling for province-specific benefit levels, eligibility requirements, GDP growth, labour market conditions and demographics, SA participation rates were more than one percentage point lower (equivalent to a 13% decline) in provinces with new reforms. Work requirements with strong sanctions had the sharpest negative associations. New reform strategies explain at least 10% of observed declines in SA participation, twice that of benefit levels and eligibility requirements.

Suggested Citation

  • Nathan Berg & Todd Gabel, 2015. "Did Canadian welfare reform work? The effects of new reform strategies on social assistance participation," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 48(2), pages 494-528, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:cje:issued:v:48:y:2015:i:2:p:494-528
    DOI: 10.1111/caje.12134
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    Cited by:

    1. Green, David A. & Riddell, William Craig, 2017. "Is there a tradeoff between ethnic diversity and redistribution? The case of income assistance in Canada," CLEF Working Paper Series 10, Canadian Labour Economics Forum (CLEF), University of Waterloo.
    2. Akhtaruzzaman, Muhammad & Berg, Nathan & Lien, Donald, 2017. "Confucius Institutes and FDI flows from China to Africa," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 241-252.
    3. Masayoshi Hayashi, 2017. "Do Central Grants Affect Welfare Caseloads? Evidence from Public Assistance in Japan," CIRJE F-Series CIRJE-F-1064, CIRJE, Faculty of Economics, University of Tokyo.
    4. Chris Riddell, 2020. "Welfare to work and subjective well‐being: Evidence from a randomized control trial," Canadian Journal of Economics/Revue canadienne d'économique, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 53(1), pages 83-107, February.
    5. Nathan Berg & Yuki Watanabe, 2020. "Conservation of behavioral diversity: on nudging, paternalism-induced monoculture, and the social value of heterogeneous beliefs and behavior," Mind & Society: Cognitive Studies in Economics and Social Sciences, Springer;Fondazione Rosselli, vol. 19(1), pages 103-120, June.

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    JEL classification:

    • H53 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Government Expenditures and Welfare Programs

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