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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: Carlson, Deven; Haveman, Robert; Kaplan, Tom; Wolfe, Barbara
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2009

    The federal Housing Choice Voucher (Section 8) Program provides eligible low-income families with an income-conditioned voucher that pays for a portion of rental costs in privately owned, affordable housing units. This paper extends prior research on the effectiveness of rental support programs in several ways. The analysis employs a unique longitudinal dataset created by combining administrative records maintained by the State of Wisconsin with census block group data. We use a propensity score matching approach coupled with difference-in-differences regression analysis to estimate the effect of housing voucher receipt on the employment and earnings of voucher recipients; we track these effects for five years following voucher receipt. Our results indicate that voucher receipt has a generally positive effect on employment, but a negative impact on earnings. The negative earnings effect is largest in the years following initial receipt of the rental voucher, and dissipates over time. We find that the pattern of recipient labor market responses to voucher receipt differs...

    The federal Housing Choice Voucher (Section 8) Program provides eligible low-income families with an income-conditioned voucher that pays for a portion of rental costs in privately owned, affordable housing units. This paper extends prior research on the effectiveness of rental support programs in several ways. The analysis employs a unique longitudinal dataset created by combining administrative records maintained by the State of Wisconsin with census block group data. We use a propensity score matching approach coupled with difference-in-differences regression analysis to estimate the effect of housing voucher receipt on the employment and earnings of voucher recipients; we track these effects for five years following voucher receipt. Our results indicate that voucher receipt has a generally positive effect on employment, but a negative impact on earnings. The negative earnings effect is largest in the years following initial receipt of the rental voucher, and dissipates over time. We find that the pattern of recipient labor market responses to voucher receipt differs substantially among demographic subgroups. In addition to our overall results, we present sensitivity results involving alternative estimation methods, as well as distinctions between those who receive transitory voucher support and those who are long-term recipients. (author abstract)

    A journal article based on this working paper was published in 2012.

  • Individual Author: Engelhardt, Will ; Skinner, Curtis
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2013

    To better understand poverty and find the best strategies to reduce it, states and localities need to know who is poor, why they are poor, and what policies work best for different groups. Rather than rely on the official poverty measure, in use since the early 1960s, several states and localities have taken the lead in developing new measures of poverty that more accurately account for the resources available to their residents as well as their needs. Supported by a strong body of innovative research from the federal government and public policy research organizations, these new measures not only more accurately gauge the level of poverty but offer a cost-effective way to evaluate the effectiveness of anti-poverty programs. Improved poverty measurement also helps policymakers identify effective new programs to assist vulnerable populations in meeting their families’ often-pressing needs.

    This brief provides an up-to-date look at how pioneering states and localities are using – or plan to use – improved poverty measurement to build smarter social policy. In a difficult...

    To better understand poverty and find the best strategies to reduce it, states and localities need to know who is poor, why they are poor, and what policies work best for different groups. Rather than rely on the official poverty measure, in use since the early 1960s, several states and localities have taken the lead in developing new measures of poverty that more accurately account for the resources available to their residents as well as their needs. Supported by a strong body of innovative research from the federal government and public policy research organizations, these new measures not only more accurately gauge the level of poverty but offer a cost-effective way to evaluate the effectiveness of anti-poverty programs. Improved poverty measurement also helps policymakers identify effective new programs to assist vulnerable populations in meeting their families’ often-pressing needs.

    This brief provides an up-to-date look at how pioneering states and localities are using – or plan to use – improved poverty measurement to build smarter social policy. In a difficult fiscal climate, investing in better measures to estimate poverty and evaluate the effectiveness of anti-poverty programs is sound practice that will enable policymakers to quantify whether and how interventions are improving outcomes for children and their families. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Strawn, Julie
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2011

    Students forced to complete a long sequence of remedial or English language classes before they can begin their postsecondary program rarely earn college certificates or degrees. This brief highlights six promising programs that show how career pathway bridges help lower-skilled students move farther and faster along college and career paths through dual enrollment in linked basic skills and occupational certificate courses. Because creating such bridges requires collaboration across college silos, they can also transform the way colleges operate. (author abstract)

    Students forced to complete a long sequence of remedial or English language classes before they can begin their postsecondary program rarely earn college certificates or degrees. This brief highlights six promising programs that show how career pathway bridges help lower-skilled students move farther and faster along college and career paths through dual enrollment in linked basic skills and occupational certificate courses. Because creating such bridges requires collaboration across college silos, they can also transform the way colleges operate. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Duncan, Greg; Huston, Aletha; Weisner, Thomas
    Reference Type: Book Chapter/Book
    Year: 2007

    During the 1990s, growing demands to end chronic welfare dependency culminated in the 1996 federal “welfare-to-work” reforms. But regardless of welfare reform, the United States has always been home to a large population of working poor—people who remain poor even when they work and do not receive welfare. In a concentrated effort to address the problems of the working poor, a coalition of community activists and business leaders in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, launched New Hope, an experimental program that boosted employment among the city’s poor while reducing poverty and improving children’s lives. In Higher Ground, Greg Duncan, Aletha Huston, and Thomas Weisner provide a compelling look at how New Hope can serve as a model for national anti-poverty policies.

    New Hope was a social contract—not a welfare program—in which participants were required to work a minimum of 30 hours a week in order to be eligible for earnings supplements and health and child care subsidies. All participants had access to career counseling and temporary community service jobs. Drawing on...

    During the 1990s, growing demands to end chronic welfare dependency culminated in the 1996 federal “welfare-to-work” reforms. But regardless of welfare reform, the United States has always been home to a large population of working poor—people who remain poor even when they work and do not receive welfare. In a concentrated effort to address the problems of the working poor, a coalition of community activists and business leaders in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, launched New Hope, an experimental program that boosted employment among the city’s poor while reducing poverty and improving children’s lives. In Higher Ground, Greg Duncan, Aletha Huston, and Thomas Weisner provide a compelling look at how New Hope can serve as a model for national anti-poverty policies.

    New Hope was a social contract—not a welfare program—in which participants were required to work a minimum of 30 hours a week in order to be eligible for earnings supplements and health and child care subsidies. All participants had access to career counseling and temporary community service jobs. Drawing on evidence from surveys, public records of employment and earnings, in-depth interviews, and ethnographic observation, Higher Ground tells the story of this ambitious three-year social experiment and evaluates how participants fared relative to a control group. The results were highly encouraging. Poverty rates declined among families that participated in the program. Employment and earnings increased among participants who were not initially working full-time, relative to their counterparts in a control group. For those who had faced just one significant barrier to employment (such as a lack of access to child care or a spotty employment history), these gains lasted years after the program ended. Increased income, combined with New Hope’s subsidies for child care and health care, brought marked improvements to the well-being and development of participants’ children. Enrollment in child care centers increased, and fewer medical needs went unmet. Children performed better in school and exhibited fewer behavioral problems, and gains were particularly dramatic for boys, who are at the greatest risk for poor academic performance and behavioral disorders.

    As America takes stock of the successes and shortcomings of the Clinton-era welfare reforms, the authors convincingly demonstrate why New Hope could be a model for state and national policies to assist the working poor. Evidence based and insightfully written, Higher Ground illuminates how policymakers can make work pay for families struggling to escape poverty. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: DeParle, Jason
    Reference Type: Book Chapter/Book
    Year: 2004

    In this definitive work, two-time Pulitzer finalist Jason DeParle cuts between the mean streets of Milwaukee and the corridors of Washington to produce a masterpiece of literary journalism. At the heart of the story are three cousins whose different lives follow similar trajectories. Leaving welfare, Angie puts her heart in her work. Jewell bets on an imprisoned man. Opal guards a tragic secret that threatens her kids and her life. DeParle traces  their family history back six generations to slavery and weaves poor people, politicians, reformers, and rogues into a spellbinding epic.

    With a vivid sense of humanity, DeParle demonstrates that although we live in a country where anyone can make it, generation after generation some families don’t. To read American Dream is to understand why. (author abstract)

    In this definitive work, two-time Pulitzer finalist Jason DeParle cuts between the mean streets of Milwaukee and the corridors of Washington to produce a masterpiece of literary journalism. At the heart of the story are three cousins whose different lives follow similar trajectories. Leaving welfare, Angie puts her heart in her work. Jewell bets on an imprisoned man. Opal guards a tragic secret that threatens her kids and her life. DeParle traces  their family history back six generations to slavery and weaves poor people, politicians, reformers, and rogues into a spellbinding epic.

    With a vivid sense of humanity, DeParle demonstrates that although we live in a country where anyone can make it, generation after generation some families don’t. To read American Dream is to understand why. (author abstract)

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