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Assessing the Impact of Welfare Reform on Urban Communities: The Urban Change Project and Methodological Considerations

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The Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation (MDRC) has undertaken an initiative that is examining how states, urban counties, and large cities restructure social welfare programs over the next several years. This paper focuses on the portion of the impact analysis that uses administrative data. To infer impacts of the new policy on employment, earnings, and welfare, the study is using a multiple cohort design. In this design, a cohort, or group, of those receiving welfare or at risk of receiving welfare will be followed over time, and their outcomes will be compared.