Encouraging the unemployed into sustained work: experimental evidence from the UK and the US [completed]

This project used data collected from random assignment evaluations of the "Employment Retention and Advancement" (ERA) programmes carried out in Texas and the UK. In both cases, ERA offered temporary earnings supplements and caseworker support to encourage full-time employment among welfare recipients. This study looked beyond overall impacts to assess the separate effects on employment entry and employment retention. This is motivated by the fact that increased retention helps individuals to gain valuable work experience, acquire new skills, increase their earnings, enjoy greater employment stability and so on. The study also explored the reasons behind the different effect seen in Texas and the UK.

The research found the following.

In the UK, ERA achieved small but significant employment increases for the long-term unemployed.  The findings suggest this was driven initially by increased employment entry but increasingly by a growing retention effect.  Findings are available here, with a summary here.

In Texas, Corpus Christi saw initial impacts from both employment retention and entry but only the entry effects persisted.  In Fort Worth, there was some improvement in retention might during the period of ERA eligibility but not beyond that point.  Findings are available here.

Comparing Texas and the UK, show differences in unobserved characteristics to be important.  There were greater impacts for those who find it harder to enter work, and smaller impacts for those who find it relatively easy to stay in work.  Differences in the prevalence of these groups are the primary reason behind the impacts in Texas being larger than those in the UK.


Dorsett, R. (2013) Can temporary in-work support help the long-term unemployed enter sustained work?, VOXEU blog

Dorsett, R., Hendra, R., Robins, P. And Williams, S. (2015) Can Post-Employment Services Combined with Financial Incentives Improve Employment Retention for Welfare Recipients? Evidence from the Texas Employment Retention and Advancement Evaluation

Dorsett, R. (2014) The effect of temporary in-work support on employment retention: evidence from a field experiment Labour Economics 31: 61-71

Dorsett, R. (2013) Can temporary in-work support help the long-term unemployed enter sustained work?

Research programmes