How to stimulate single mothers on welfare to find a job: Evidence from a policy experiment

Marike Knoef, Jan van Ours

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We present the results from a policy experiment in which single mothers on welfare were stimulated to enter the labor market and increase their work experience. The aim of the policy was not per se for single mothers to leave welfare completely but to encourage them to find a job if only a part-time job. Two policy instruments were introduced: an earnings disregard and job creation. The experiment was performed at the municipality level in the Netherlands, a country with relatively high benefits and low incentives for single mothers to leave welfare for work. In our analysis, we make a distinction between native and immigrant welfare recipients. For immigrant single mothers, we find a positive employment effect of an earnings disregard. Job creation in addition to the earnings disregard increased working hours for some groups of single mothers. Although the outflow from welfare was not affected, welfare expenditures were reduced.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1025-1061
JournalJournal of Population Economics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2016


  • welfare
  • single mothers
  • policy experiment
  • earnings disregard
  • job creation


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