When Can Experimental Evidence Mislead? A Re-Assessment of Canada's Self Sufficiency Project

47 Pages Posted: 1 Jun 2016

See all articles by Chris Riddell

Chris Riddell

Queen's University

W. Craig Riddell

University of British Columbia (UBC) - Department of Economics

Abstract

The Self-Sufficiency Project was a well-known welfare-to-work experiment that provided a generous but time-limited financial incentive to leave welfare and enter the workforce. Experimental evidence showed large short-term impacts but no lasting effects. We argue that these conclusions need to be re-assessed. Policy changes implemented during the SSP implied the behavior of the control group did not provide an appropriate counterfactual. We estimate the impacts the financial incentive would have had in a stable policy environment. This re-assessment leads to significant changes in the lessons previously reached. Our study demonstrates that experimental findings need to be interpreted with care.

Keywords: welfare-to-work policies, social experiments, Self-Sufficiency Project

JEL Classification: C90, H53, I38

Suggested Citation

Riddell, Chris and Riddell, W. Craig, When Can Experimental Evidence Mislead? A Re-Assessment of Canada's Self Sufficiency Project. IZA Discussion Paper No. 9939, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2786023

Chris Riddell (Contact Author)

Queen's University ( email )

Kingston, Ontario K7L 3N6 K7L 3N6
Canada

W. Craig Riddell

University of British Columbia (UBC) - Department of Economics ( email )

997-1873 East Mall
Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z1
Canada
604-822-2106 (Phone)

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