Population: Low-Income Populations

Welfare Recipients

Since its founding, MDRC has been a leading developer and evaluator of programs focused on improving the self-sufficiency and economic circumstances of welfare recipients and their families.

The Latest
Issue Focus

Welfare rolls declined after Temporary Assistance for Needy Families became law in 1996, and there was widespread consensus that its reforms were a bipartisan success story. But the onslaught of the Great Recession exposed serious flaws in the law. This memo describes a two-part solution based on experience and evidence.

Report

The BIAS project tested behavioral interventions in child support, child care, and work support programs with nearly 100,000 low-income clients in eight human services agencies. Each site saw at least one significant, low-cost impact. The findings suggest that small environmental changes can enhance client-agency interactions and expanded behavioral strategies might help strengthen programs and policies.

Key Documents
Testimony

Implications for Income Support Policy

On the eve of the 15th anniversary of federal welfare reform, MDRC President Gordon Berlin describes the implications of the Great Recession and its effects on the labor market for welfare policy and other safety net programs. The speech was given at the 2011 Welfare Research and Evaluation Conference, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Report

A Synthesis of Research

Most welfare programs seek to ensure that poor families have adequate income while at the same time encouraging self-sufficiency. Based on studies of 28 programs involving more than 100,000 sample members, this synthesis compares the costs, benefits, and returns on investment of six welfare program strategies – from the perspectives of participants, government budgets, and society as a whole.

Testimony

Presented Before the U.S. House Committee on Ways and Means, Human Resources Subcommittee

On July 30, 2014, MDRC’s Dan Bloom testified before the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Human Resources on what research says about the effectiveness of subsidized employment programs in promoting work, reducing poverty, and improving other important outcomes.