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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: Heinrich, Carolyn J.; Smeeding, Timothy M.
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2014

    This policy brief, the second of two drawn from the IRP and CHASP conference on "Building Human Capital and Economic Potential," examines the special challenges of people with less than a high school diploma, ex-offenders, and young single mothers and policy options to address them. (author abstract)

    This policy brief, the second of two drawn from the IRP and CHASP conference on "Building Human Capital and Economic Potential," examines the special challenges of people with less than a high school diploma, ex-offenders, and young single mothers and policy options to address them. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Edelman, Peter B.; Holzer, Harry J.
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2013

    In this paper we will briefly review recent trends in employment outcomes for disadvantaged youth, focusing specifically on those who have become "disconnected" from school and the labor market, and why these trends have occurred. We then review a range of policy prescriptions that might improve those outcomes. These policies include: 1) Efforts to enhance education and employment outcomes, both among in-school youth who are at risk of dropping out and becoming disconnected as well as out-of-school youth who have already done so; 2) Policies to increase earnings and incent more labor force participation among youth, such as expanding the eligibility of childless adults (and especially non-custodial parents) for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC); and 3) Specific policies to reduce barriers to employment faced by ex-offenders and non-custodial parents (NCPs). We also consider policies that target the demand side of the labor market, in efforts to spur the willingness of employers to hire these young people and perhaps to improve the quality of jobs available to them.  (author...

    In this paper we will briefly review recent trends in employment outcomes for disadvantaged youth, focusing specifically on those who have become "disconnected" from school and the labor market, and why these trends have occurred. We then review a range of policy prescriptions that might improve those outcomes. These policies include: 1) Efforts to enhance education and employment outcomes, both among in-school youth who are at risk of dropping out and becoming disconnected as well as out-of-school youth who have already done so; 2) Policies to increase earnings and incent more labor force participation among youth, such as expanding the eligibility of childless adults (and especially non-custodial parents) for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC); and 3) Specific policies to reduce barriers to employment faced by ex-offenders and non-custodial parents (NCPs). We also consider policies that target the demand side of the labor market, in efforts to spur the willingness of employers to hire these young people and perhaps to improve the quality of jobs available to them.  (author abstract)

    Also published as IRP Discussion Paper 1412-13.

  • Individual Author: Mead, Lawrence M.
    Reference Type: Journal Article
    Year: 2012

    How might work levels among low-income men be raised, as they were for welfare mothers in the 1990s? This study expands the relevant literature on both social policy and implementation. Low-skilled men owing child support and ex-offenders returning from prison are already supposed to work but often fail to do so. The reasons include both the recent fall in unskilled wages and the confusion of men’s lives. Existing work programs in child support and criminal justice appear promising, although evaluations are limited. A survey covering most states shows that half or more already have some men’s work programs, usually on a small scale. Field research in six states suggests the political and administrative factors that shape wider implementation of these programs. Work programs should preferably be mandatory, stress work over training, and be combined with improved wage subsidies. The federal government should provide more funding and evaluations. (author abstract)

    How might work levels among low-income men be raised, as they were for welfare mothers in the 1990s? This study expands the relevant literature on both social policy and implementation. Low-skilled men owing child support and ex-offenders returning from prison are already supposed to work but often fail to do so. The reasons include both the recent fall in unskilled wages and the confusion of men’s lives. Existing work programs in child support and criminal justice appear promising, although evaluations are limited. A survey covering most states shows that half or more already have some men’s work programs, usually on a small scale. Field research in six states suggests the political and administrative factors that shape wider implementation of these programs. Work programs should preferably be mandatory, stress work over training, and be combined with improved wage subsidies. The federal government should provide more funding and evaluations. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Stoll, Michael A.; Bushway, Shawn D.
    Reference Type: Journal Article
    Year: 2008

    The rapid rise in the nation’s incarceration rate over the past decade has raised questions about how to successfully reintegrate a growing number of ex-offenders. Employment has been shown to be an important factor in reintegration, especially for men over the age of 27 that characterize the majority of individuals released from prison. At the same time, there is substantial evidence that employers discriminate against ex-prisoners. One policy response that has received considerable attention is to deny employers access to criminal history record information, including movements to “ban the box” asking about criminal history information on job applications. The assumption underlying this movement is that knowledge of ex-offender status leads directly to a refusal to hire. An alternative view is that some employers care about the characteristics of the criminal history record, and use information about criminal history in a more nuanced, non-discrete way. This paper explores this question using unique establishment-level data collected in Los Angeles in 2001. On average, we...

    The rapid rise in the nation’s incarceration rate over the past decade has raised questions about how to successfully reintegrate a growing number of ex-offenders. Employment has been shown to be an important factor in reintegration, especially for men over the age of 27 that characterize the majority of individuals released from prison. At the same time, there is substantial evidence that employers discriminate against ex-prisoners. One policy response that has received considerable attention is to deny employers access to criminal history record information, including movements to “ban the box” asking about criminal history information on job applications. The assumption underlying this movement is that knowledge of ex-offender status leads directly to a refusal to hire. An alternative view is that some employers care about the characteristics of the criminal history record, and use information about criminal history in a more nuanced, non-discrete way. This paper explores this question using unique establishment-level data collected in Los Angeles in 2001. On average, we replicate the now common finding that employer initiated criminal background checks is negatively related to the hiring of ex-offenders. However, this negative effect is less than complete. The effect is strongly negative for those employers that are legally required to check. But some employers appear to check to gain additional information about ex-offenders (and thus hire more ex-offenders than other employers), while checking appears to have no affect on hiring ex-offenders for those employers not legally required to check. Therefore, initiatives aimed at restricting background checks for those firms not legally required to check may not have the desired consequences of increasing ex-offender employment. (author abstract)

    This article is based on working paper published by the National Poverty Center at the University of Michigan and the Institute for Research on Poverty at the University of Wisconsin.

  • Individual Author: Harding, David J.; Wyse, Jessica J. B.; Dobson, Cheyney; Morenoff, Jeffrey D.
    Reference Type: Journal Article
    Year: 2014

    Former prisoners are at high risk of economic insecurity due to the challenges they face in finding employment and to the difficulties of securing and maintaining public assistance while incarcerated. This study examines the processes through which former prisoners attain economic security, examining how they meet basic material needs and achieve upward mobility over time. It draws on unique qualitative data from in-depth, unstructured interviews with a sample of former prisoners followed over a two- to three-year period to assess how subjects draw upon a combination of employment, social supports, and public benefits to make ends meet. Findings reveal considerable struggle among our subjects to meet even minimal needs for shelter and food, although economic security and stability could be attained when employment or public benefits were coupled with familial social support. Sustained economic security was rarely achieved absent either strong social support or access to long-term public benefits. However, a select few were able to leverage material support and social networks...

    Former prisoners are at high risk of economic insecurity due to the challenges they face in finding employment and to the difficulties of securing and maintaining public assistance while incarcerated. This study examines the processes through which former prisoners attain economic security, examining how they meet basic material needs and achieve upward mobility over time. It draws on unique qualitative data from in-depth, unstructured interviews with a sample of former prisoners followed over a two- to three-year period to assess how subjects draw upon a combination of employment, social supports, and public benefits to make ends meet. Findings reveal considerable struggle among our subjects to meet even minimal needs for shelter and food, although economic security and stability could be attained when employment or public benefits were coupled with familial social support. Sustained economic security was rarely achieved absent either strong social support or access to long-term public benefits. However, a select few were able to leverage material support and social networks into trajectories of upward mobility and economic independence. Policy implications are discussed. (author abstract)

    This article is based on working papers published by the Population Studies Center and National Poverty Center at the University of Michigan.

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