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The Dynamic Effects of an Earnings Subsidy for Long-Term Welfare Recipients: Evidence from the SSP Applicant Experiment

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  • David Card
  • Dean R. Hyslop

Abstract

In the SSP Applicant Experiment, a random sample of new welfare entrants was informed that if they remained on welfare for a year they would become eligible for a generous earnings subsidy. Those who satisfied the waiting period and then left welfare and began working full time within the following year were entitled to receive payments for up to 36 months whenever they were off welfare and working full time. A simple optimizing model suggests that the program rules created an unusual sequence of incentives to: (1) prolong the initial spell on welfare for at least 12 months to become eligible for the subsidy offer; (2) establish subsidy entitlement by finding full time work and leaving welfare in the 12 to 24 month period after initial entry; and (3) choose work over welfare during the three years that subsidies were available. Consistent with these implications, comparisons between the experimental treatment group and a randomly assigned control group show that the program increased welfare participation in the first year after initial entry and lowered it over the following 5 years. We develop an econometric model of welfare participation and program eligibility status that allows us to identify the behavioral effects associated with the program rules. We find important responses to all three incentives. We also find that the impact of the program persisted after subsidy payments ended, although the effect decayed over time.

Suggested Citation

  • David Card & Dean R. Hyslop, 2006. "The Dynamic Effects of an Earnings Subsidy for Long-Term Welfare Recipients: Evidence from the SSP Applicant Experiment," NBER Working Papers 12774, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12774
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    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w12774.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Dale T. Mortensen, 1977. "Unemployment Insurance and Job Search Decisions," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 30(4), pages 505-517, July.
    2. David Card & Dean R. Hyslop, 2005. "Estimating the Effects of a Time-Limited Earnings Subsidy for Welfare-Leavers," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 73(6), pages 1723-1770, November.
    3. 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.
    4. Card, David & Heining, Jörg & Kline, Patrick, 2015. "CHK effects," FDZ Methodenreport 201506_en, Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung (IAB), Nürnberg [Institute for Employment Research, Nuremberg, Germany].
    5. Card, David & Robins, Philip K., 2005. "How important are "entry effects" in financial incentive programs for welfare recipients? Experimental evidence from the Self-Sufficiency Project," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 125(1-2), pages 113-139.
    6. 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.
    7. Robert A. Moffitt, 1996. "The effect of employment and training programs on entry and exit from the welfare caseload," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 15(1), pages 32-50.
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    Cited by:

    1. Magne Mogstad & Chiara Pronzato, 2012. "Are Lone Mothers Responsive to Policy Changes? Evidence from a Workfare Reform in a Generous Welfare State," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 114(4), pages 1129-1159, December.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

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

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