Democrats and Republicans agree it is necessary to build evidence concerning the nation’s social programs. But more should be done to improve the nation’s research capabilities, to embed evidence building in government programs, and to put evidence at the heart of making policy.
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.
The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) promotes work and raises over six million Americans out of poverty each year. Early results from an ongoing demonstration suggest that expanding the EITC for singles, an idea with bipartisan support, is feasible and can increase employment and income while reducing poverty.
Although most college students receive financial aid, many are left with unmet financial needs and may take on loans or drop out as a result. But promising innovations in financial aid could help students pay for college and accelerate their studies.
Forty percent of all entering college students and over half of entering community college students must take at least one remedial course. Fewer than half make it through developmental education. This two-page Looking Forward memo provides an overview of research evidence in four areas of developmental education reform.
Even in good economic times, workers with limited education may need help getting or regaining a foothold in the job market. Effective career training programs exist. Approaches that target in-demand industries and closely involve employers can get results, benefiting high school students, adults without diplomas, and long-term unemployed workers.
Subsidized employment programs use public funds to create jobs for the unemployed. This two-page memo describes how they can provide short-term income support to individuals with serious barriers to employment or to broader groups during poor economic times — while having positive effects on reducing recidivism, increasing child support payments, or reducing reliance on welfare.
Pay for Success promises to generate funding to solve complex social problems while at the same time using ideas from the private sector to hold governments accountable. For the concept to work, though, parties in a Pay-for-Success deal must have some specific skills.