Using Incentives to Change How Teenagers Spend Their Time: The Effects of New York City's Conditional Cash Transfer Program

159 Pages Posted: 11 Oct 2012  

Pamela Morris

New York University (NYU)

Lawrence Aber

New York University (NYU)

Sharon Wolf

New York University (NYU)

Juliette Berg

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Date Written: October 11, 2012

Abstract

This report presents the results of an innovative study designed to provide a more detailed understanding of how parents and their teenage children were affected by the Opportunity NYC-Family Rewards program, a comprehensive conditional cash transfer program. The three-year program, launched by the Center for Economic Opportunity in the Mayor’s Office of the City of New York in 2007, offered cash assistance to low-income families to reduce economic hardship. The cash incentives were tied to activities and outcomes in children’s education, family preventive health care, and parents’ employment, in the hopes of increasing families’ “human capital” and reducing their poverty in the long term. An evaluation by MDRC of the first two years of the Family Rewards program, published in 2010, found that it had positive effects on families’ economic well-being and mixed effects on children’s education, family health care, and parents’ employment. For example, while the program did not affect school outcomes for younger children, it substantially boosted the achievement of a subset of older children who were better prepared for high school when they entered the program in the ninth grade. How the program affected teenagers and their parents is the focus of this study, which has been embedded in MDRCs continuing core evaluation of the program. This report addresses key “pathways” that may underlie any effects of the program on teenagers (such as changes in the way teenagers spent their time) as well as outcomes that were not targeted but that the program may have affected (such as teenagers’ mental health, aggressive behavior, or substance use.)

Suggested Citation

Morris, Pamela and Aber, Lawrence and Wolf, Sharon and Berg, Juliette, Using Incentives to Change How Teenagers Spend Their Time: The Effects of New York City's Conditional Cash Transfer Program (October 11, 2012). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2160130 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2160130

Pamela Morris (Contact Author)

New York University (NYU) ( email )

Bobst Library, E-resource Acquisitions
20 Cooper Square 3rd Floor
New York, NY 10003-711
United States

Lawrence Aber

New York University (NYU) ( email )

Bobst Library, E-resource Acquisitions
20 Cooper Square 3rd Floor
New York, NY 10003-711
United States

Sharon Wolf

New York University (NYU) ( email )

Bobst Library, E-resource Acquisitions
20 Cooper Square 3rd Floor
New York, NY 10003-711
United States

Juliette Berg

affiliation not provided to SSRN

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