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Reforming the Financial Incentives of the Welfare System


  • Card, David

    () (University of California, Berkeley)


This paper summarizes the findings from the Self Sufficiency Project: a large scale social experiment that is being conducted in Canada to evaluate the effect of high-powered financial incentives for full time work among former welfare recipients. The experimental results confirm the importance of financial incentives in the welfare participation and work decisions of low-income single mothers. Enhanced incentives induce a significant fraction of welfare recipients to leave the program and enter work. They also have a relatively large anti-poverty effect. Moreover, when incentives are offered to relatively short-term recipients, they can actually save the government money.

Suggested Citation

  • Card, David, 2000. "Reforming the Financial Incentives of the Welfare System," IZA Discussion Papers 172, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp172

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Bruce D. Meyer & Dan T. Rosenbaum, 2001. "Welfare, the Earned Income Tax Credit, and the Labor Supply of Single Mothers," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(3), pages 1063-1114.
    2. Card, D. & Michalopoulos, C. & Robins, P.K., 2001. "Measuring Wage Growth Among Former Welfare Recipients," Papers 2001-5, Gouvernement du Canada - Human Resources Development.
    3. Rebecca M. Blank & David Card & Philip K. Robins, 1999. "Financial Incentives for Increasing Work and Income Among Low-Income Families," JCPR Working Papers 69, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
    4. repec:mpr:mprres:2635 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. David Card & Philip K. Robins & Winston Lin, 1998. "Would Financial Incentives for Leaving Welfare Lead Some People to Stay on Welfare Longer? An Experimental Evaluation of 'Entry Effects' in the SSP," NBER Working Papers 6449, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Charles Michalopoulos & Philip K. Robins & David Card, 2000. "When Financial Incentives Pay for Themselves: Early Findings from the Self-Sufficiency Project's Applicant Study," JCPR Working Papers 133, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
    7. Philip K. Robins, 1985. "A Comparison of the Labor Supply Findings from the Four Negative Income Tax Experiments," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 20(4), pages 567-582.
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    Cited by:

    1. Spermann, Alexander & Strotmann, Harald, 2005. "The Targeted Negative Income Tax (TNIT) in Germany: Evidence from a Quasi Experiment," ZEW Discussion Papers 05-68, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
    2. Michael Fertig & Jochen Kluve & Christoph M. Schmidt, 2006. "Der erweiterte Minijob für Arbeitslose - Ein Reformvorschlag," Perspektiven der Wirtschaftspolitik, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 7(2), pages 227-255, May.
    3. repec:iab:iabzaf:v:38:i:2/3:p:383-395 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Meyer, Wolfgang & Gerlach, Knut, 2005. "Zusammenlegung von Arbeitslosen- und Sozialhilfe: Wirkungen auf Löhne, Beschäftigung und gewerkschaftliche Tarifpolitik (The merging of uneployment assistance and social aissistance * effects on wages," Zeitschrift für ArbeitsmarktForschung - Journal for Labour Market Research, Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung (IAB), Nürnberg [Institute for Employment Research, Nuremberg, Germany], vol. 38(2/3), pages 383-395.
    5. repec:zbw:rwimat:017 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Michael Fertig & Jochen Kluve & Christoph M. Schmidt, 2005. "Der erweiterte Minijob für Arbeitslose – Ein Reformvorschlag," RWI Materialien, Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, pages 38, 01.

    More about this item


    Welfare reform; financial incentives;

    JEL classification:

    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs


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