A Helping Hand Goes a Long Way: Long-Term Effects of Counselling and Support to Workfare Program Participants
We study the long-run impacts of the Canada Self-Sufficiency Project (SSP) Plus program, which randomly offered intensive employment support services for up to three years to long-term welfare recipients eligible for temporary work subsidies. We examine whether this intervention – aiming to address both economic and psycho-social barriers faced by the poor in finding and retaining desirable employment – led to long-run changes in individuals’ socioeconomic trajectories. We link study participants to their federal tax and employer-employee matched records for up to 20 years after random assignment. The intensive services treatment led to a 20-27 percent increase in participants’ annual earnings over the 20-year period, or approximately 26,000 CAD in present discounted real 2010 terms. As possible mechanisms, individuals experience increases in full-time employment throughout the first decade post-intervention, a greater retention of jobs in higher paying firms, and an improvement in non-cognitive skills.
We thank David Card and Chris Riddell for their contributions and involvement in earlier stages of the study; seminar and conference participants at George Mason University, the University of Maryland, Queen’s University, Columbia University, Simon Fraser University, the University of Texas at Austin, the University of Toronto, the XVth RIDGE/LACEA Workshop on Labor, the 2021 APPAM Fall Conference, and the CRETE 2022 conference for very helpful comments and suggestions. We are especially grateful to Statistics Canada Social Analysis and Modelling Division for providing us access to the data and general support throughout. We also thank Reuben Ford and the Social Research and Demonstration Corporation for providing us with archival documents and detailed information about SSP and SSP Plus. Finally, we thank Wendy Bancroft, Sheila Currie, Kelly Foley, Heather Maughan, and Shelly Price for sharing their recollections of the Plus project. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.