What is the evidence of the effects of post-employment programmes on retention, advancement and poverty?


In-work support to encourage employment retention and advancement has consisted of various combinations of financial incentives, in-work training, targeted financial help, case management, career counselling, and childcare subsidies. It is expected that job retention and job advancement can help lift working families out of poverty through regular and improved earnings over time.

Evidence base

  • The largest body of evidence has investigated the effects of in-work supplements/ incentives on employment/earnings outcomes. RCT designs tested programmes in the 1990s and 2000s targeted primarily at those disadvantaged in the labour market and the working poor, particularly lone parents. Most of these studies were in the US.
  • Programme participants who had taken up financial incentives experienced significant gains in job retention and advancement (earnings), compared to non-participating groups, but these findings have not always persisted post treatment. Longer-term follow-up found that participant earnings did not systematically increase over time (Hamilton & Scrivener, 2012; Michalopoulos, 2005) and did not necessarily increase enough to lift families out of poverty (Dunifon, 2005).
  • There is less evidence and less conclusive evidence on the separate contributions of the various in-work supports (and what combinations work for whom). In a synthesis of employment retention and advancement programmes, Hamilton and Scrivener (2012) concluded that support for employment stability, as opposed to job stability, seems to be a more effective strategy. Also, earnings supplements helped to encourage employment stability and advancement (also in combination with one-to-one support) while advisory support alone does not appear to have a positive effect. Studies and reviews promote a holistic, tailored approach to employment stability and sustainability.


1. Aside from UK ERA, is there more evidence outside North America?
2. Is there more evidence for workers without children (younger and older people)?

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