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Estimating the Effects of a Time Limited Earnings Subsidy for Welfare Leavers

  • David Card
  • Dean R. Hyslop

In the Self Sufficiency Program (SSP) welfare demonstration, members of a randomly assigned treatment group could receive a subsidy for full time work. The subsidy was available for three years, but only to people who began working full time within 12 months of random assignment. A simple optimizing model suggests that the eligibility rules created an 'establishment' incentive to find a job and leave welfare within a year of random assignment, and an 'entitlement' incentive to choose work over welfare once eligibility was established. Building on this insight, we develop an econometric model of welfare participation that allows us to separate the two effects and estimate the impact of the earnings subsidy on welfare entry and exit rates among those who achieved eligibility. The combination of the two incentives explains the time profile of the experimental impacts, which peaked 15 months after random assignment and faded relatively quickly. Our findings suggest that about half of the peak impact of SSP was attributable to the establishment incentive. Despite the extra work effort generated by SSP the program had no lasting impact on wages, and little or no long run effect on welfare participation.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 10647.

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Date of creation: Jul 2004
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Publication status: published as Card, David and Dean R. Hyslop. "Estimating The Effects Of A Time-Limited Earnings Subsidy For Welfare-Leavers," Econometrica, 2005, v73(6,Nov), 1723-1770.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:10647
Note: LS PE
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  1. Rebecca M. Blank, David Card and Philip K. Robins, 1999. "Financial Incentives for Increasing Work and Income Among Low-Income Families," Economics Working Papers E99-264, University of California at Berkeley.
  2. Dale Mortensen, 1984. "Job Search and Labor Market Analysis," Discussion Papers 594, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  3. Card, David & Sullivan, Daniel G, 1988. "Measuring the Effect of Subsidized Training Programs on Movements in and out of Employment," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(3), pages 497-530, May.
  4. Butler, J S & Moffitt, Robert, 1982. "A Computationally Efficient Quadrature Procedure for the One-Factor Multinomial Probit Model," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(3), pages 761-64, May.
  5. Phelps, Edmund S, 1994. "Low-Wage Employment Subsidies versus the Welfare State," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(2), pages 54-58, May.
  6. Dale T. Mortensen, 1977. "Unemployment insurance and job search decisions," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 30(4), pages 505-517, July.
  7. Richard Blundell & Hilary W. Hoynes, 2004. "Has 'In-Work' Benefit Reform Helped the Labor Market?," NBER Chapters, in: Seeking a Premier Economy: The Economic Effects of British Economic Reforms, 1980-2000, pages 411-460 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Lemieux, Thomas & Fortin, Bernard & Frechette, Pierre, 1994. "The Effect of Taxes on Labor Supply in the Underground Economy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(1), pages 231-54, March.
  9. Ham, John C & LaLonde, Robert J, 1996. "The Effect of Sample Selection and Initial Conditions in Duration Models: Evidence from Experimental Data on Training," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 64(1), pages 175-205, January.
  10. Joshua D. Angrist & Guido W. Imbens, 1995. "Identification and Estimation of Local Average Treatment Effects," NBER Technical Working Papers 0118, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Greenberg, D.H. & Meyer, D.R. & Robins, P. & Michalopoulos, C., 1992. "Simulation Estimates on the Net Employment Impacts of Six Employment Subsidy Programs for Long-Term Welfare Recipients in Canada," Papers r-95-7, Gouvernement du Canada - Human Resources Development.
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