Building a Convincing Test of a Public Housing Employment Program Using Non-Experimental Methods

Planning for the Jobs-Plus Demonstration


This paper examines issues and options for the design of a major non-experimental study to measure the impacts of a large-scale, saturation-level demonstration program to promote employment among residents of selected public housing developments. The program, Jobs-Plus, is being launched by MDRC in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and The Rockefeller Foundation. Because Jobs-Plus will be a comprehensive community initiative, available to all residents of the several public housing developments where it is implemented, the program cannot be evaluated using a randomized experiment, the now-standard method for measuring the impacts of employment and training programs. However, because community-wide initiatives are becoming an increasingly important component of social policy, it is essential to develop methods for determining their success. It is the purpose of this paper, therefore, to explore possibilities for doing so.