Employment Strategies for Low-Income Adults Evidence Review, 2013-2017

Project Overview

The Employment Strategies for Low-Income Adults Evidence Review systematically reviewed the literature on the effectiveness of employment and training programs for low-income adults. The purpose of the review was:


To provide practitioners, policymakers, researchers, and the general public with a transparent and systematic assessment of the research evidence for effectiveness of programs designed to improve the employment-related outcomes of low-income adults.

Pre-specified standards and methods governed the review, which had four main activities: searching the literature, screening studies for eligibility, assessing each study’s strength of evidence, and extracting information reported in the studies.

Results were published in November 2015 at employmentstrategies.acf.hhs.gov. The website features a searchable database of all identified research, along with findings on key outcomes of interest and highlights of the characteristics of reviewed studies. It also describes the review’s standards and methods.

A series of briefs available beginning in spring 2016 will focus on synthesizing and examining employment strategies topics.

The point of contact is Emily Schmitt and Mathematica Policy Research conducted the review.

  • Work Readiness: Can It Lead to Better Employment and Earnings for Low-Income Adults?

    Published: November 30, 2016

    This brief discusses 19 interventions identified by the Employment Strategies for Low-Income Adults Evidence Review that featured work-readiness services as their primary employment or training strategy. The brief describes these work-readiness interventions and their impact on employment and earnings. It goes on to profile six promising work-readiness interventions...

  • Primary Employment and Training Strategies Used in the Interventions Reviewed by ESER

    Published: November 28, 2016

    Most employment and training interventions for low-income adults consist of a variety of services, strategies or approaches intended to improve employment and earnings. Many also include strategies to address other needs of the target population, such as housing. To enable quicker comparison across interventions, the Employment Strategies for Low-Income Adults Evidence Review identified a primary strategy for each multi-strategy intervention the review examined...

  • ESER Reporting Guide for Study Authors

    Published: October 4, 2016

    This reporting guide recommends best practices for study authors on how to describe impact evaluations of employment programs and strategies. The guide provides recommendations for describing study characteristics, study design and analysis, study data, and sample tables for use in reporting this information...

  • Financial Incentives and Sanctions: Can They Improve Employment Outcomes for Low-Income Adults?

    Published: October 4, 2016

    Many programs attempting to improve employment outcomes for low-income adults use financial incentives or sanctions to motivate participants to obtain and/or retain a job. This brief describes the employment and earnings impacts of 12 interventions, identified by the Employment Strategies for Low-Income Adults Evidence Review, that used financial incentives or sanctions as a primary strategy. It also highlights four promising interventions and their impacts in more detail....

  • Assessing the Evidence Base: Strategies That Support Employment for Low-Income Adults

    Published: August 17, 2016

    The Employment Strategies for Low-Income Adults Evidence Review identified, compiled, and reviewed studies of employment and training interventions for low-income adults. The review seeks to provide a transparent and systematic assessment of the research evidence for the effectiveness of programs designed to improve the employment-related outcomes of low-income adults...

  • Employment Strategies for Low- Income Adults Evidence Review: Standards and Methods

    Published: June 26, 2015

    This report explains in detail the criteria that govern the Employment Strategies for Low-Income Adults Evidence Review (ESER), a systematic review of the literature on the effectiveness of employment and training programs for low-income adults. This detailed look includes the criteria for searching the literature, screening studies for eligibility, assessing each study’s strength of evidence, and extracting information reported in the studies...

  • Reviewing the Research on Improving Employment Outcomes for Low-Income Adults - Fact Sheet

    Published: June 26, 2015

    This fact sheet summarizes the criteria that govern the Employment Strategies for Low-Income Adults Evidence Review (ESER), a systematic review of the literature on the effectiveness of employment and training programs for low-income adults. The summary includes the criteria for searching the literature, screening studies for eligibility, assessing each study’s strength of evidence, and extracting information reported in the studies...

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