Next Generation: Interventions, Economic Security, and Child Development

Investigator: Greg Duncan (with Pamela Morris, MDRC)

Funding: National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD)

The Next Generation project aimed to inform policymakers, practitioners, and scholars by identifying lessons that cut across evaluations of individual welfare, antipoverty, and work programs. With a focus on how such programs can influence children's and families' well-being through their effects on employment, income, and child care, the project drew on data from random assignment welfare-to-work studies conducted by MDRC in the 1990s to address questions such as:

  • How do programs that share certain effects on parents' economic outcomes - for instance, that boost employment or income - affect children? What combinations of economic effects harm or benefit children most?

  • How do different types of child care assistance shape patterns of child care use among low-income parents? What are the consequences for children's well-being?

  • Do the programs affect children of different ages differently? If so, how?

  • What can we learn from in-depth interviews with families subject to welfare reform about the daily challenges they face and how public policies can address their needs?

Topics examined in project publications include: (1) how the effects of welfare and work programs on children vary across age groups; (2) whether benefits to children of generous earning supplement programs are observed in the long term; (3) how welfare and work programs affect children's outcomes through causal pathways such as employment, income, and the use of child care; and (4) how the effects of parents' employment on children's outcomes are influenced by characteristics of parents' employment on the one hand and neighborhood quality on the other.

For more information about this project, visit