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The SSRC Library allows visitors to access materials related to self-sufficiency programs, practice and research. Visitors can view common search terms, conduct a keyword search or create a custom search using any combination of the filters at the left side of this page. To conduct a keyword search, type a term or combination of terms into the search box below, select whether you want to search the exact phrase or the words in any order, and click on the blue button to the right of the search box to view relevant results.

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  • Individual Author: Loibl, Cäzilia ; Jones, Lauren; Haisley, Emily; Loewenstein, George
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2016

    In a series of field experiments we test whether saving and retention rates in a federally funded, matched savings program for low-income families – the Individual Development Account (IDA) program – can be improved through the introduction of program features inspired by behavioral economics. We partnered with eight IDA programs across the U.S. who agreed to randomly assign participants to different experimental conditions. We test the impact of four revenue-neutral changes in key program features: a) holding savers accountable for making savings deposits through phone calls before and after the deposit deadline, b) an increase in the frequency with which deposits are made from monthly to biweekly, c) the introduction of a lottery-based incentive structure, whereby match rates are determined in part by a lottery at the time of each deposit, and d) an increase in the savings match from $2 for every $1 saved to $4 for every $1 saved when half of the savings goal was reached. None of our four interventions had the desired effect of increasing savings. To explain the null findings,...

    In a series of field experiments we test whether saving and retention rates in a federally funded, matched savings program for low-income families – the Individual Development Account (IDA) program – can be improved through the introduction of program features inspired by behavioral economics. We partnered with eight IDA programs across the U.S. who agreed to randomly assign participants to different experimental conditions. We test the impact of four revenue-neutral changes in key program features: a) holding savers accountable for making savings deposits through phone calls before and after the deposit deadline, b) an increase in the frequency with which deposits are made from monthly to biweekly, c) the introduction of a lottery-based incentive structure, whereby match rates are determined in part by a lottery at the time of each deposit, and d) an increase in the savings match from $2 for every $1 saved to $4 for every $1 saved when half of the savings goal was reached. None of our four interventions had the desired effect of increasing savings. To explain the null findings, we speculate that liquidity constraints, rather than cognitive biases, were the primary impediment to saving. (Author abstract)

     

  • Individual Author: Paulsell, Diane; Noyes, Jennifer L.; Selekman, Rebekah; Klein Vogel, Lisa; Sattar, Samina; Nerad, Benjamin
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2015

    In fall 2012, the Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) within the Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services launched the Child Support Noncustodial Parent Employment Demonstration Project (CSPED) to identify effective approaches to enabling low-income noncustodial parents to pay their child support. OCSE competitively awarded grants to child support agencies in eight states to provide enhanced child support, employment, parenting, and case management services to noncustodial parents having difficulty meeting child support obligations. Grantees partnered with community organizations to deliver employment and parenting services. The Institute for Research on Poverty at the University of Wisconsin and Mathematica Policy Research are conducting an evaluation of CSPED that includes an impact study, an implementation study, and a benefit-cost study. This report presents early implementation findings from the first two years of the demonstration. (Author abstract)

    In fall 2012, the Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) within the Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services launched the Child Support Noncustodial Parent Employment Demonstration Project (CSPED) to identify effective approaches to enabling low-income noncustodial parents to pay their child support. OCSE competitively awarded grants to child support agencies in eight states to provide enhanced child support, employment, parenting, and case management services to noncustodial parents having difficulty meeting child support obligations. Grantees partnered with community organizations to deliver employment and parenting services. The Institute for Research on Poverty at the University of Wisconsin and Mathematica Policy Research are conducting an evaluation of CSPED that includes an impact study, an implementation study, and a benefit-cost study. This report presents early implementation findings from the first two years of the demonstration. (Author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Harris, Douglas N.; Nathan, Alan; Marksteiner, Ryne
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2014

    Upward Bound (UB) was one of the original federal Great Society programs of the 1960s and remains, fifty years later, the single largest college access program in the country. Recently, Congress has reduced funding and considered eliminating the program because of federal budget pressures and because the first analysis of the only national randomized trial concluded that UB had "no detectable effect." In this study, we explain problems with the study design that have made this conclusion controversial and made it difficult to identify average treatment effects that are unbiased for the program population. The study design is sufficient, however, to test other important hypotheses. We show that UB has drifted away from its original intent of serving disadvantaged students and become less efficient in the process. Specifically, over time, UB has come to serve students whose parents have higher incomes and education levels. Also, program administrators deem students ineligible based on misbehavior and other factors, even though assignment to the UB treatment increases this...

    Upward Bound (UB) was one of the original federal Great Society programs of the 1960s and remains, fifty years later, the single largest college access program in the country. Recently, Congress has reduced funding and considered eliminating the program because of federal budget pressures and because the first analysis of the only national randomized trial concluded that UB had "no detectable effect." In this study, we explain problems with the study design that have made this conclusion controversial and made it difficult to identify average treatment effects that are unbiased for the program population. The study design is sufficient, however, to test other important hypotheses. We show that UB has drifted away from its original intent of serving disadvantaged students and become less efficient in the process. Specifically, over time, UB has come to serve students whose parents have higher incomes and education levels. Also, program administrators deem students ineligible based on misbehavior and other factors, even though assignment to the UB treatment increases this ineligible group's probability of graduating high school and obtaining some type of college credential by 6–10 percentage points. We show that the program is cost-effective for this group and would reduce achievement gaps if it were better targeted. In short, the government should encourage sites to get back to the program roots of serving more disadvantaged students. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Allard, Scott W.; Danziger, Sandra K.; Wathen, Maria
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2014

    Economic shocks produced by the Great Recession have contributed to rising food insecurity, with 14.7 percent of U.S. households being food insecure in 2009, compared to 11.1 percent in 2007. At the same time, SNAP caseloads increased by nearly 60 percent since 2007 and the program now reaches more than 40 million persons. Using data from the first two waves of the Michigan Recession and Recovery Survey (MRRS), a unique panel survey of a representative sample of working-age adults in the Detroit Metropolitan Area, this project explores three research questions related to the receipt of SNAP among low-income households: How have low-income families in the Detroit Metropolitan Area bundled SNAP with other types of public assistance and help from charitable nonprofits in the wake of the Great Recession? When controlling for economic shocks and respondent characteristics, to what extent is access to local food assistance resources related to receipt of SNAP and charitable nonprofit food assistance? How are receipt of SNAP assistance and economic shocks related to household food...

    Economic shocks produced by the Great Recession have contributed to rising food insecurity, with 14.7 percent of U.S. households being food insecure in 2009, compared to 11.1 percent in 2007. At the same time, SNAP caseloads increased by nearly 60 percent since 2007 and the program now reaches more than 40 million persons. Using data from the first two waves of the Michigan Recession and Recovery Survey (MRRS), a unique panel survey of a representative sample of working-age adults in the Detroit Metropolitan Area, this project explores three research questions related to the receipt of SNAP among low-income households: How have low-income families in the Detroit Metropolitan Area bundled SNAP with other types of public assistance and help from charitable nonprofits in the wake of the Great Recession? When controlling for economic shocks and respondent characteristics, to what extent is access to local food assistance resources related to receipt of SNAP and charitable nonprofit food assistance? How are receipt of SNAP assistance and economic shocks related to household food shopping behaviors and food security? Several important findings emerge from this project that should be of interest to scholars, policymakers, and advocates. Among them is the finding that food insecurity is quite prevalent among poor and near-poor households in metro Detroit following the Great Recession. Fifty-one percent of households below the federal poverty line were food insecure in the year prior to the Wave 1 survey. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Gennetian, Lisa A.; Ludwig, Jens; McDade, Thomas; Sanbonmatsu, Lisa
    Reference Type: Journal Article
    Year: 2013

    In 1987 sociologist William Julius Wilson published his influential book The Truly Disadvantaged, which argued that the growing geographic concentration of poor minority families in urban areas contributed to high rates of crime, out-of-wedlock births, female-headed families, and welfare dependency. The exodus of black working- and middle-class families during the 1960s and 1970s from inner-city areas had adverse effects on the poor families left behind in high-poverty areas, Wilson suggested, by eliminating a “social buffer” that helped “keep alive the perception that education is meaningful, that steady employment is a viable alternative to welfare, and that family stability is the norm, not the exception” (p. 49). Our research on the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Moving to Opportunity (MTO) randomized mobility experiment raises questions about whether Wilson was right about the effects of concentrated poverty on the earnings, welfare receipt, or schooling outcomes of low-income families living in such areas. But MTO suggests concentrated poverty does...

    In 1987 sociologist William Julius Wilson published his influential book The Truly Disadvantaged, which argued that the growing geographic concentration of poor minority families in urban areas contributed to high rates of crime, out-of-wedlock births, female-headed families, and welfare dependency. The exodus of black working- and middle-class families during the 1960s and 1970s from inner-city areas had adverse effects on the poor families left behind in high-poverty areas, Wilson suggested, by eliminating a “social buffer” that helped “keep alive the perception that education is meaningful, that steady employment is a viable alternative to welfare, and that family stability is the norm, not the exception” (p. 49). Our research on the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Moving to Opportunity (MTO) randomized mobility experiment raises questions about whether Wilson was right about the effects of concentrated poverty on the earnings, welfare receipt, or schooling outcomes of low-income families living in such areas. But MTO suggests concentrated poverty does have extremely important impacts on outcomes not emphasized so much by Wilson – such as physical and mental health. (author abstract)

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