As the first major effort to use a behavioral economics lens to examine human services programs that serve poor and vulnerable families in the United States, the BIAS project demonstrated the value of applying behavioral insights to improve the efficacy of human services programs.
The Work of MDRC’s Center for Applied Behavioral Science
This issue focus describes how MDRC’s Center for Applied Behavioral Science has completed several large-scale field studies, incorporated behavioral science into other MDRC projects, and educated policymakers and practitioners about how to use behavioral science to improve their programs.
WorkAdvance connects low-income job seekers to high-demand sectors that offer quality jobs with strong career pathways. This infographic describes the program model and its implementation in four locations and presents encouraging evidence of WorkAdvance’s effects on boosting earnings.
Lessons for Practitioners
The demonstration of WorkAdvance confirmed that sectoral employment programs can increase employment and earnings among low-income individuals. This brief offers insights from providers on selecting sectors, tailoring training to employer needs, reducing attrition, securing placements that offer better wages and benefits, and helping workers plan for advancement.
Using Behavioral Insights to Increase Incarcerated Parents’ Requests for Child Support Modifications
A behavioral intervention provided incarcerated noncustodial parents in Washington with materials about their eligibility for a child support order modification and how to request one. It increased the number of parents requesting a modification by 32 percentage points and the number of parents receiving a modification by 16 percentage points.
Two-Year Impacts from the WorkAdvance Demonstration
WorkAdvance provides demand-driven skills training and a focus on jobs with career pathways. As detailed in this full report, all four programs studied greatly increased training completion and credential acquisition. Employment outcomes varied by site, with large, consistent impacts at the most experienced provider and promising results at two others.
A Preview Summary of Two-Year Impacts from the WorkAdvance Demonstration
WorkAdvance provides demand-driven skills training and a focus on jobs with career pathways. This preview summary finds that all four programs studied greatly increased training completion and credential acquisition. Employment outcomes varied by site, with large, consistent impacts at the most experienced provider and promising results at two others.
Building a Body of Evidence
Over the past several years, MDRC has worked with the federal Administration for Children and Families to test low-cost behavioral interventions to improve child support services in a number of states. This issue focus describes what’s been learned so far — and what’s planned for the future.
Applying Behavioral Insights to Increase Collections
Findings from tests in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, demonstrate that low-cost, low-effort behavioral interventions can improve child support payment outcomes. These tests are part of the Behavioral Interventions to Advance Self-Sufficiency project, sponsored by the federal Administration for Children and Families.