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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: Eissa, Nada; Hoynes, Hilary W.
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 1998

    Over 18 million taxpayers are projected to receive the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) in tax year 1997, at a total cost to the federal government of about 25 billion dollars. The EITC is refundable, so that any amount of the credit exceeding the family's tax liability is returned in the form of a cash refund. Advocates of the credit argue that this redistribution occurs with much less distortion to labor supply than that caused by other elements of the welfare system. This popular view that the credit is unlikely to hold among married couples. Theory suggests that primary earners (typically men) would increase labor force participation, but secondary earners would reduce their labor supply in response to an EITC. We study the labor supply response of married couples to several EITC expansions between 1984 and 1996. While our primary interest is the response to changes in the budget set induced by the EITC, our estimation strategy takes account of budget set changes caused by federal tax policy, and by cross-sectional variation in wages, income, and family size. We use both...

    Over 18 million taxpayers are projected to receive the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) in tax year 1997, at a total cost to the federal government of about 25 billion dollars. The EITC is refundable, so that any amount of the credit exceeding the family's tax liability is returned in the form of a cash refund. Advocates of the credit argue that this redistribution occurs with much less distortion to labor supply than that caused by other elements of the welfare system. This popular view that the credit is unlikely to hold among married couples. Theory suggests that primary earners (typically men) would increase labor force participation, but secondary earners would reduce their labor supply in response to an EITC. We study the labor supply response of married couples to several EITC expansions between 1984 and 1996. While our primary interest is the response to changes in the budget set induced by the EITC, our estimation strategy takes account of budget set changes caused by federal tax policy, and by cross-sectional variation in wages, income, and family size. We use both quasi-experimental and reduced form labor supply models to estimate the impact of EITC induced tax changes. The results suggest that EITC expansions between 1984 and 1996 increased married men's labor force participation only slightly but reduced married women's labor force participation by over a full percentage point. Overall, the evidence suggests that family labor supply and pre-tax family earnings fell among married couples. Our results imply that the EITC is effectively subsidizing married mothers to stay at home, and therefore have implications for the design of the program. (Author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Liebman, Jeffrey B.
    Reference Type: Journal Article
    Year: 1998

    For more than three decades, economists have advocated the use of the tax system as a means of transferring income to low-income families. Studying the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) offers the opportunity to learn how well the tax system functions in roles traditionally handled by the welfare system. There are two features of the EITC that distinguish it from other U.S. income transfer programs. First, the EITC budget constraint is unusual--in particular, only taxpayers who work are eligible for the EITC. The shape of the constraint influences who receives the credit, what incentives recipients face, and how much the program costs. Second, the credit is administered through the tax system rather than through the welfare system, and is usually received as part of a taxpayer's annual tax refund. This administrative structure has important implications for EITC participation and compliance rates, for administrative costs, and for the ways in which recipients perceive its incentives. This paper discusses these features of the EITC, and presents evidence that the EITC has...

    For more than three decades, economists have advocated the use of the tax system as a means of transferring income to low-income families. Studying the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) offers the opportunity to learn how well the tax system functions in roles traditionally handled by the welfare system. There are two features of the EITC that distinguish it from other U.S. income transfer programs. First, the EITC budget constraint is unusual--in particular, only taxpayers who work are eligible for the EITC. The shape of the constraint influences who receives the credit, what incentives recipients face, and how much the program costs. Second, the credit is administered through the tax system rather than through the welfare system, and is usually received as part of a taxpayer's annual tax refund. This administrative structure has important implications for EITC participation and compliance rates, for administrative costs, and for the ways in which recipients perceive its incentives. This paper discusses these features of the EITC, and presents evidence that the EITC has increased labor force participation among single women with children, and has offset a significant share of recent increases in income inequality. The limited evidence available suggests that the labor supply impact of the phaseout of the credit is minimal. Rates of noncompliance are falling, and are now similar to the overall rate of noncompliance for the individual income tax. (Author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Hershey, Alan M.; Pavetti, LaDonna A.
    Reference Type: Journal Article
    Year: 1997

    Most welfare-to-work programs designed to help single mothers leave welfare for employment focus on the challenge of finding a job. This article looks beyond the point of employment to consider the difficulty many former welfare recipients have keeping their jobs. The authors review evidence showing that many families cycle back and forth between welfare and work, losing jobs and returning to public assistance while they seek work again. Factors contributing to high rates of job loss include characteristics of the job and of the worker: Temporary jobs, frequent layoffs, low pay in relation to work expenses, lack of experience meeting employer expectations, and personal or family problems all lead to dismissals and resignations. Drawing from the experience of innovative programs, the authors recommend policy changes and program approaches that can help families overcome setbacks and stabilize their lives as they move from welfare into increasingly stable employment. (author abstract)

    Most welfare-to-work programs designed to help single mothers leave welfare for employment focus on the challenge of finding a job. This article looks beyond the point of employment to consider the difficulty many former welfare recipients have keeping their jobs. The authors review evidence showing that many families cycle back and forth between welfare and work, losing jobs and returning to public assistance while they seek work again. Factors contributing to high rates of job loss include characteristics of the job and of the worker: Temporary jobs, frequent layoffs, low pay in relation to work expenses, lack of experience meeting employer expectations, and personal or family problems all lead to dismissals and resignations. Drawing from the experience of innovative programs, the authors recommend policy changes and program approaches that can help families overcome setbacks and stabilize their lives as they move from welfare into increasingly stable employment. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Rangarajan, Anu
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 1996

    To collect information about employment paths out of welfare and to test innovative ways to promote job retention, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) initiated the Post-employment Services Demonstration (PESD). Newly employed welfare recipients in four sites were identified and enrolled in the demonstration. Individuals were assigned at random to an enhanced-services group (program group) or to a regular-services group (control group). Those in the program group had a case manager who helped identify their needs and provided special services to promote job retention. They also provided rapid re-employment services for those who lost jobs. Using qualitative data from focus groups with clients, staff interviews, and client case files, we examined the experiences of newly employed welfare recipients during their transition from welfare to work. Like other single parents who find work, welfare recipients experience many new situations and difficulties. They have to find affordable and reliable child care and transportation, budget for new work expenses, and meet...

    To collect information about employment paths out of welfare and to test innovative ways to promote job retention, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) initiated the Post-employment Services Demonstration (PESD). Newly employed welfare recipients in four sites were identified and enrolled in the demonstration. Individuals were assigned at random to an enhanced-services group (program group) or to a regular-services group (control group). Those in the program group had a case manager who helped identify their needs and provided special services to promote job retention. They also provided rapid re-employment services for those who lost jobs. Using qualitative data from focus groups with clients, staff interviews, and client case files, we examined the experiences of newly employed welfare recipients during their transition from welfare to work. Like other single parents who find work, welfare recipients experience many new situations and difficulties. They have to find affordable and reliable child care and transportation, budget for new work expenses, and meet the new demands of the workplace. In addition, welfare mothers often have to deal with new income reporting and accounting rules to continue to receive welfare and other benefits, including transitional child care and transitional Medicaid. Many welfare recipients also find low-paying entry-level positions in occupations with irregular hours or shifts that change to accommodate fluctuating workloads. These circumstances complicate child care and budgeting challenges. Compounding these new demands, many welfare recipients have little in the way of a social support network to help them weather some of the crises that affect their ability to hold a job. In fact, many welfare recipients report that friends and families undermine their efforts to attain self-sufficiency through work. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Holzer, Harry
    Reference Type: Book Chapter/Book
    Year: 1996

    A very important contribution to the field of labor economics, and in particular to the understanding of the labor market for workers with relatively low skill levels. I think we have the sense that the market looks bad, but haven't been clear on how bad it is, or how it got that way. What Employers Want provides some of the answers and identifies the important questions. It is essential reading. —Jeffrey S. Zax, University of Colorado at Boulder

    The substantial deterioration in employment and earnings among the nation's less-educated workers, especially minorities and younger males in the nation's big cities, has been tentatively ascribed to a variety of causes: an increase in required job skills, the movement of companies from the cities to the suburbs, and a rising unwillingness to hire minority job seekers. What Employers Want is the first book to replace conjecture about today's job market with first-hand information gleaned from employers about who gets hired. Drawn from a survey of over 3,000 employers in four major metropolitan areas—Los Angeles, Boston, Atlanta,...

    A very important contribution to the field of labor economics, and in particular to the understanding of the labor market for workers with relatively low skill levels. I think we have the sense that the market looks bad, but haven't been clear on how bad it is, or how it got that way. What Employers Want provides some of the answers and identifies the important questions. It is essential reading. —Jeffrey S. Zax, University of Colorado at Boulder

    The substantial deterioration in employment and earnings among the nation's less-educated workers, especially minorities and younger males in the nation's big cities, has been tentatively ascribed to a variety of causes: an increase in required job skills, the movement of companies from the cities to the suburbs, and a rising unwillingness to hire minority job seekers. What Employers Want is the first book to replace conjecture about today's job market with first-hand information gleaned from employers about who gets hired. Drawn from a survey of over 3,000 employers in four major metropolitan areas—Los Angeles, Boston, Atlanta, and Detroit—this volume provides a wealth of data on what jobs are available to the less-educated, in what industries, what skills they require, where they are located, what they pay, and how they are filled.

    The evidence points to a dramatic surge in suburban, white-collar jobs. The manufacturing industry—once a steady employer of blue-collar workers—has been eclipsed by the expanding retail trade and service industries, where the vast majority of jobs are in clerical, managerial, or sales positions. Since manufacturing establishments have been the most likely employers to move from the central cities to the suburbs, the shortage of jobs for low-skill urban workers is particularly acute. In the central cities, the problem is compounded and available jobs remain vacant because employers increasingly require greater cognitive and social skills as well as specific job-related experience. Holzer reveals the extent to which minorities are routinely excluded by employer recruitment and screening practices that rely heavily on testing, informal referrals, and stable work histories. The inaccessible location and discriminatory hiring patterns of suburban employers further limit the hiring of black males in particular, while earnings, especially for minority females, remain low.

    Proponents of welfare reform often assume that stricter work requirements and shorter eligibility periods will effectively channel welfare recipients toward steady employment and off federal subsidies. What Employers Want directly challenges this premise and demonstrates that only concerted efforts to close the gap between urban employers and inner city residents can produce healthy levels of employment in the nation's cities. Professor Holzer outlines the measures that will be necessary—targeted education and training programs, improved transportation and job placement, heightened enforcement of anti-discrimination laws, and aggressive job creation strategies. Repairing urban labor markets will not be easy. This book shows why. (author abstract) 

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