The Economic Self-Sufficiency Policy Research Institute (ESSPRI) at UC Irvine is pleased to announce the awarding of funds for the following proposals. ESSPRI received three proposals for 2017 and ten proposals for 2018 funding. Proposals were reviewed by the ESSPRI executive committee and by representatives of ESSPRI’s primary funder, the Laura and John Arnold Foundation. Competitions for funds are held annually and open to ESSPRI affiliates, with projects funded and carried out in the following year.




When the War is Done: The Effects of Combat Service on Economic Transitions of Veterans

Joseph Sabia, San Diego State University, and William Skimmyhorn, West Point

Amount: $75,000


The U.S. Army is undergoing its most dramatic drawdown since the end of the Cold War, as the active duty force declines from nearly 600,000 to about 450,000 between 2012 and 2018. While combat veterans possess cognitive, non-cognitive, and job skills that may make them attractive to some employers, challenges remain in promoting economic self-sufficiency in transition to civilian life. This project is the first to link US Army administrative data with panel data on post-separation program receipt and schooling to estimate the impact of combat on economic transitions of Army veterans.


The Returns of an Additional Year of Schooling: The Case of State-Mandated Kindergarten

Jade Jenkins, UC Irvine, and Maria Rueda-Rosales, UC Irvine

Amount: $15,000 (seed)


While in most states kindergarten began as a voluntary program, between 1970-2015 some states mandated kindergarten attendance. This effectively shifted the minimum school entry age from age 7 (1st grade) to 6. Several changes in state school entrance laws across—and in some instances, within—states over time provide an opportunity to causally identify the influence of an additional year of ECE on individual education and labor market outcomes. This project views the impacts of mandatory kindergarten attendance on long-run outcomes as a first look at how an additional year of education during preschool will influence long-run outcomes in a policy context where federal and state governments are actively considering universal preschool programs.




How Do Programs Interact Across Children’s Lives? Short and Long Run Effects of the War on Poverty

Marianne Bitler, UC Davis

Amount: $75,000


A growing body of research documents that early-life experiences shape individuals’ well-being. A smaller but emerging

literature finds that government interventions can also positively affect these same later-life outcomes. However, the channels through which these effects operate are still largely unknown. This project will shed light on those channels by addressing the following questions: How do the immediate impacts of early-life environments translate into longer-run changes in individuals’ well-being and self-sufficiency? How do these effects vary across the life cycle? Do different public investments in children build on one another in the short and long run? To answer these questions, this project will create a new national panel data set that captures geographic and time variation in large-scale health, early child education, and nutrition interventions. A key aim will be to test how these programs interact with each other across children’s life courses and to explore the effects of policy complementarities, studying how programs can provide children a scaffolding of support across different ages.


The Returns of an Additional Year of Schooling: The Case of State-Mandated Kindergarten

Jade Jenkins and Maria Rueda-Rosales, UC Irvine

Amount: $75,000

(See above for description)


Identifying Effective Career Pathways for Disadvantaged Students in Community College

Harry Holzer, Georgetown University

Amount: $40,000


“Career pathways” (CPs) are fast becoming one of the most frequently discussed models of workforce education and training in the US for disadvantaged youth and adults. The development of CPs and their accelerated use is driven in part by the 2014 Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), which requires states to establish CPs as a key component of workforce training. But, for all of the proliferation of CPs, the programs mostly have low enrollments, and we have remarkably little empirical evidence on which pathways generate successful outcomes for different populations of disadvantaged students, in terms of the attainment of postsecondary credential and higher earnings. This project will identify successful pathways for disadvantaged students, by focusing more specifically on whether these pathways generate causal impacts on student outcomes. Identifying such pathways and establishing their impacts could greatly improve our ability to help disadvantaged students choose appropriate pathways in community colleges, and our ability to build pathways along which they can progress and attain the credentials and jobs that will raise their self-sufficiency over the long run.


Merging Administrative Data to Test the Impact of the $15 Seattle Minimum Wage on Household Poverty

Jennifer Romich, Mark Long, and Jacob Vigdor, University of Washington

Amount: $40,000


The first two decades of the 21st century have seen considerable changes in state and local minimum wages alongside calls for parallel changes at the federal level. Well over half the U.S. population now lives in areas subject to wage floors above the federal minimum of $7.25 per hour, and more than three dozen counties or cities have raised hourly minimums to rates as high as $15. Advocates claim that higher minimum wages will meaningfully reduce poverty and improve the material well-being of low-income workers and their families. Countering voices suggest that the benefits from higher minimum wages accrue largely to workers from non-poor families, and wage mandates may harm the poor by reducing employment opportunities or reducing scheduled hours. Many important questions about the impact of minimum wage laws concern how wage mandates affect households as well as whether and how impacts vary across different demographic groups. This project will create the first scholarly evidence about how Seattle’s $15 minimum wage affected poverty and will serve as a model for future comprehensive analyses of local minimum wages and related anti-poverty studies.


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