Another especially promising RCT finding of the past 18 months: @EconMobility’s study of @ProjectQUESTInc occupational training of low-income adults for well-paying healthcare jobs. Quick take: High-quality RCT finds sizable long-term earnings gains (15–20%, or about $5,000/year). Continued below.

Program:

  • Per the study report: QUEST, located in San Antonio, "provides financial, academic, and personal supports to help adults with low incomes obtain postsecondary educational credentials and access well-paying jobs in strong sectors of the local economy." The program’s cost is approximately $12,500/participant.

Study Design:

  • The RCT assessed QUEST's impact among a sample of 410 low-income adults pursuing health-care careers (88% female, 74% Hispanic, average earnings of $13,323 in the year prior to program entry).

  • Based on careful review, I believe this was a well-conducted study (e.g., with good treatment-control baseline balance & negligible sample attrition).

Findings:

  • Key results are shown in the graph above: QUEST increased earnings by 15-20% (about $5,000/year) during the 9-11 years after program entry. The cumulative earnings gain far exceeds the program's cost of about $12,500/person. What's remarkable about these findings is the long duration of earnings gains.

Comment:

  • A study limitation: It was conducted in 1 site (San Antonio), so replication in another study & site will be important to hopefully confirm the result. Disclosure: My former employer, Arnold Ventures, helped fund the long-term study follow-up. Here’s a more detailed evidence summary, and here's the latest study report.

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