@LEOatND reported RCT results for Padua, an intensive case management program for low-income adults, aimed at moving them permanently out of poverty. Quick take: High-quality RCT finds suggestive, but at best modest, effects on earnings, employment, etc over 2-5 yr follow-up.


  • Per the study: Padua is "a holistic, individualized wrap-around service intervention [that] includes a detailed assessment, an individualized service plan, intensive case management administered by a two-person team [&] temporary financial assistance." Cost is $23K/person.  

Study Design:

  • The study sample comprised 427 low-income adults in Tarrant County TX, randomly assigned to treatment (full Padua program) versus control (usual services).


  • At the 2-yr mark, the study survey found Padua increased earnings by 18% (vs a control average of $1149/month) & employment by 6% points (vs control group's 63%). But neither effect was statistically significant, so these effects are best viewed as suggestive (could be due to chance).

  • Also, surveys are vulnerable to "social desirability bias" - i.e., treatment group members know the program's goals & may overstate their workforce success to show they’ve made good use of the assistance.

  • The study also measured workforce outcomes with state records, & found near-zero impact on earnings & a non-significant 5% point increase in employment over 4.5 yrs (& similar over 2 yrs). Such records avoid social desirability bias but don't count informal (eg, gig) jobs, so may modestly understate employment/earnings for both T and C groups.

  • Finally, in the survey measures & state records, the study found no overall pattern of effects on other pre-specified main outcomes: debt, savings, household income, use of gov't assistance, or health.


  • Based on careful review, I believe this was a well-conducted RCT with important but mostly disappointing findings: Despite the program's intensity & cost, it didn't discernably lift people out of poverty & toward self-sufficiency. Here's the study.

We use cookies to improve your experience and to help us understand how you use our site. Please refer to our cookie notice and privacy statement for more information regarding cookies and other third-party tracking that may be enabled.

Intuit Mailchimp logo