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What Do Welfare-to-Work Demonstrations Reveal to Welfare Reformers?

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  • John V. Pepper

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Abstract

Under the new welfare system, states must design and institute programs that both provide assistance and encourage work, two objectives that have thus far appeared incompatible. Will states meet these new requirements? For many innovative programs, the randomized welfare-to-work experiments conducted over the last three decades may be the only source of observed data. While these experiments yield information on the outcomes of mandated treatments, the new regime permits states and localities much discretion. Using data from four experiments conducted in the mid-1980s, this study examines what welfare-to-work demonstrations reveal about outcomes when the treatments are heterogenous. In the absence of assumptions, these data allow us to draw only limited inferences about the labor market outcomes of welfare recipients. Combined with prior information, however, data from experimental demonstrations are informative, suggesting either that the long run federal requirements cannot be met or that these standards will only be met under special circumstances.

Suggested Citation

  • John V. Pepper, 1999. "What Do Welfare-to-Work Demonstrations Reveal to Welfare Reformers?," Virginia Economics Online Papers 317, University of Virginia, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:vir:virpap:317
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    1. Manski, Charles F., 1992. "Identification Problems In The Social Sciences," SSRI Workshop Series 292716, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Social Systems Research Institute.
    2. James J. Heckman, 1991. "Randomization and Social Policy Evaluation Revisited," NBER Technical Working Papers 0107, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Manski, C.F. & Nagin, D.S., 1995. "Bounding Disagreements About Treatment Effects: A Case Study of Sentencing and Recidivism," Working papers 9526, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
    4. John V. Pepper, 2000. "The Intergenerational Transmission Of Welfare Receipt: A Nonparametric Bounds Analysis," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 82(3), pages 472-488, August.
    5. Dehejia, Rajeev H., 2005. "Program evaluation as a decision problem," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 125(1-2), pages 141-173.
    6. Charles F. Manski, 1996. "Learning about Treatment Effects from Experiments with Random Assignment of Treatments," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 31(4), pages 709-733.
    7. V. Joseph Hotz & Guido W. Imbens & Julie H. Mortimer, 1999. "Predicting the Efficacy of Future Training Programs Using Past Experiences," NBER Technical Working Papers 0238, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Charles F. Manski, 1997. "The Mixing Problem in Programme Evaluation," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 64(4), pages 537-553.
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    Cited by:

    1. Oscar Mitnik, 2008. "How do Training Programs Assign Participants to Training? Characterizing the Assignment Rules of Government Agencies for Welfare-to-Work Programs in California," Working Papers 0907, University of Miami, Department of Economics.
    2. Guildo W. Imbens, 2003. "Sensitivity to Exogeneity Assumptions in Program Evaluation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(2), pages 126-132, May.
    3. Charles F. Manski & John Newman & John V. Pepper, "undated". "Using Performance Standards to Evaluate Social Programs with Incomplete Outcome Data: General Issues and Application to a Higher Education Block Grant Program," IPR working papers 00-1, Institute for Policy Resarch at Northwestern University.
    4. Robert Lemke & Claus Hoerandner & Robert McMahon, 2006. "Student Assessments, Non-test-takers, and School Accountability," Education Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 14(2), pages 235-250.
    5. Jeounghee Kim, 2012. "The Effects of Welfare-to-Work Programs on Welfare Recipients’ Employment Outcomes," Journal of Family and Economic Issues, Springer, vol. 33(1), pages 130-142, March.

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