Improving the outcomes of youth with medical limitations: Evidence from the National Job Corps Study
Heinrich Hock, Dara Lee Luca, Tim Kautz, and David Stapleton
Improving work outcomes for youth with disabilities and reducing their reliance on disability benefits are important policy priorities, but existing interventions have shown limited promise. We provide new evidence to inform this discussion by re-analyzing data from the 1990s National Job Corps Study, a randomized field experiment conducted nationwide in the United States. Job Corps, which provides comprehensive training to economically disadvantaged youth, is the nation’s largest youth program outside of the school system. We examine youth who had medical limitations when they enrolled in the experiment, a group that has not previously been studied. During the 4 years after random assignment, participation in Job Corps increased the earnings of youth with medical limitations—substantially more so than for youth without medical limitations—and additionally reduced their receipt of disability cash benefits. Interventions designed specifically for such youth have not typically demonstrated reductions in benefit receipt. Hence, our re-analysis of the field experiment suggests that Job Corps could be a promising model for helping some youth with disabilities gain a foothold in the labor market and achieve greater self-sufficiency.