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Do Welfare-to-Work Programmes Work for Long?


  • David Greenberg
  • Karl Ashworth
  • Andreas Cebulla
  • Robert Walker


Evidence that welfare-to-work programmes in the USA succeed in boosting welfare recipients' earnings at modest cost has helped shape policy in Britain since 1997. So too has the belief that programmes that prioritise moving people into work quickly are more effective than ones that seek to enhance human capital. However, there is little evidence on how long the beneficial effects of 64 US welfare-to work programmes that have all been evaluated using random assignment. It concludes that, on average, these programmes have a positive effect on participants' earnings for five to six years. The effects of 'work first' interventions are most marked early on the decline more rapidly than those of programmes emphasising human capital. Nevertheless, work first interventions typically increase earnings received over six years by more than two-and-a-half times that achieved by human capitl approaches.

Suggested Citation

  • David Greenberg & Karl Ashworth & Andreas Cebulla & Robert Walker, 2004. "Do Welfare-to-Work Programmes Work for Long?," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 25(1), pages 27-53, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:ifs:fistud:v:25:y:2004:i:1:p:27-53

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    Cited by:

    1. David C. Stapleton & Joel Smith & Denise Whalen & Laura Kosar, 2011. "BOND Implementation and Evaluation: Proposal to Develop Enhancements to the Benefit Offset Simulation Model (BOSIM)," Mathematica Policy Research Reports cc0df2cb29c44353bcaf7dfd9, Mathematica Policy Research.
    2. Greenberg, David H. & Deitch, Victoria & Hamilton, Gayle, 2010. "A Synthesis of Random Assignment Benefit-Cost Studies of Welfare-to-Work Programs," Journal of Benefit-Cost Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 1(01), pages 1-30, July.
    3. Adda, Jérôme & Costa Dias, Mònica & Meghir, Costas & Sianesi, Barbara, 2007. "Labour market programmes and labour market outcomes: a study of the Swedish active labour market interventions," Working Paper Series 2007:27, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.
    4. Sianesi, Barbara, 2008. "Differential effects of active labour market programs for the unemployed," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(3), pages 370-399, June.

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