Welfare program performance: An analysis of south Carolina's family independence program

Caroline Ratcliffe, Demetra Smith Nightingale, Patrick Sharkey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Public agencies are increasingly expected to track their performance according to established criteria - to be held accountable for the expenditure of public funds and show that funds are being used to achieve intended outcomes. This analysis of South Carolina's Family Independence welfare program examines counties' performance on five employment-related outcomes: employment rate, employment entry rate, employment retention rate, earnings gain rate, and earned income closure rate. Counties' performance is statistically analyzed, adjusting for variation in external factors (e.g., labor market conditions and caseload characteristics) that influence program performance but that are outside the control of county program staff. This analysis shows that external factors influence employment-related performance, suggesting that states may want to vary counties' goals based on external factors, rather than expecting all counties to meet the same performance level. This analysis provides an example of how agencies can apply statistical analysis to measure, track, and analyze program performance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)65-90
Number of pages26
JournalAmerican Review of Public Administration
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2007
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Public Administration
  • Marketing


  • Earnings
  • Employment
  • Performance
  • Welfare


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