The What Works Best for Whom: Effects of Welfare Reform Policies on Subgroups of Current and Former Welfare Recipients project investigated the effects of recent welfare policies on various subgroups of welfare recipients. It added to earlier work on subgroups by adding more programs to the analysis, looking at additional outcomes, looking at other subgroups, and including longer follow-up periods for some programs. The major goals of the project were to help program operators target precious resources toward groups most likely to benefit from the programs they are running, and to help policy makers understand which groups may need new approaches to help them move to work, stay at work, advance in their jobs, and/or help their children.
The major research questions addressed included: (1) Who did and did not benefit from attempts to encourage work among welfare recipients? (2) Did the characteristics of those who did not benefit from prior programs suggest changes that might increase programs’ effects? (3) Were some types of programs more effective than others?
The study used data on nearly 100,000 individuals from 26 programs in 10 States and two Canadian provinces, derived from MDRC experimental studies of welfare employment programs. Experimental comparisons of subgroups were conducted for individual programs as well as for pooled samples combining several programs.