The Employment Strategies for Low-Income Adults Evidence Review systematically reviewed the literature on the effectiveness of employment and training programs for low-income adults. Mathematica Policy Research conducted the review, under contract to the Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation (OPRE) in the Administration for Children and Families (ACF). The purpose of the review was to provide practitioners, policymakers, researchers, and the general public with a transparent and systematic assessment of the research evidence for effectiveness of programs designed to improve the employment-related outcomes of low-income adults.

The project reviewed studies to assess the strength of the evidence they presented for the effectiveness of a program (which could consist of an intervention, strategy, approach, or combination thereof).
  • “Strength of evidence” refers to how likely it is that a study’s estimated program impacts were caused by that program, not something else.
  • ESER assigned a high, moderate, or low rating to each study reviewed. To determine the rating, ESER used a comprehensive set of review standards.
  • The standards focused on whether the treatment group and the comparison group were similar before the program began. The two groups must have been either formed by a random process or shown to be similar on several pre-program characteristics in order for a study to rate high or moderate.
  • If a publication examined programs, sites, or populations separately and did not aggregate them, ESER reviewed and rated each component separately, so individual publications may have multiple pages on this site (when this occurs, we differentiate the components of the publication in brackets after the citation).

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