This study was conducted by staff from Mathematica Policy Research, which administers CLEAR. Therefore, the review of this study was conducted by an independent consultant trained in applying the CLEAR causal evidence guidelines.
Schochet, P.Z., D’Amico, R., Berk, J., Dolfin, S., & Wozny, N. (2012). Estimated impacts for participants in the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program under the 2002 amendments. Princeton, NJ: Mathematica Policy Research.
- The study’s objective was to examine the impact of the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) Program on education and training, employment, earnings, and public benefit receipt.
- The study used a nonexperimental method to match those who took part in the TAA Program to a similar group of nonparticipants. The authors used data from telephone surveys and administrative records to compare education, employment, earnings, and public benefits receipt outcomes across the groups.
- The study found that education and training programs completion and educational attainment were higher among TAA participants than similar nonparticipants. Employment, earnings, and receipt of cash assistance were lower for TAA participants than for similar nonparticipants, and a larger percentage of TAA participants than nonparticipants received Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits and food stamps.
- The quality of causal evidence presented in this study is moderate because it was based on a well-implemented nonexperimental design. This means we are somewhat confident that the estimated effects are attributable to TAA, but other factors might also have contributed.
The Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) Program
Features of the Intervention
Established under the Trade Act of 1974 and amended through the Trade Adjustment Assistance Reform Act of 2002, the TAA Program was intended to provide aid to adult workers (18 and older) within an industry or group whose employment had been lost or reduced as a result of foreign trade competition. The available services included employment and case management services, job search assistance and allowances, training, relocation allowances, and some cash income supports. Eligible employees must have lost their jobs or have been notified of unemployment risk due to import competition or shifts in foreign production.
Features of the Study
The authors identified TAA participants and selected a random sample of those who had been laid off from a TAA-certified firm from November 1, 2005, to October 31, 2006. The authors used a statistical procedure to create a comparison group of UI claimants who began receiving UI benefits during the same period, lived in the same local areas as the TAA participants, and had not been laid off from TAA-certified firms. In total, the study included 2,054 TAA participants and 1,796 matched workers who lost their jobs but were not eligible for and did not participate in TAA.
The study estimated the impact of TAA by using a regression analysis to compare the outcomes of TAA participants and nonparticipants. The survey sample was slightly more than half female, nearly two-thirds were non-Hispanic white, about 75 percent had less than a high school education, and the average age was 49 years. The study measured outcomes using data collected in two telephone surveys and from administrative records.
- Education and training completion and attainment. The study found that the percentage of TAA participants who completed an education or training program was 31 percentage points higher and the percentage who earned a certificate or degree significantly was 30 percentage points higher than the percentages among nonparticipants. The percentage of workers who obtained a Generalized Education Degree was 17 percentage points higher for TAA participants than nonparticipants.
- Employment. The percentage of TAA participants who became employed during the four years after their UI claim was significantly lower than nonparticipants. The difference between participants and nonparticipants was more than 25 percentage points in the first two years after UI benefits began, but declined over time and fell below a 10 percentage point difference in the fourth year.
- Earnings. The study found that the average annual earnings of TAA participants were significantly lower in all four years after the UI claim than those of nonparticipants. In the first year, TAA participants earned an average of $12,674 less than nonparticipants. This difference decreased after the second year and, in the fourth year, TAA participants earned $3,273 less than nonparticipants.
- Public benefits receipt. TAA participants received significantly more in UI benefits through the first six quarters of follow-up than nonparticipants. In addition, the percentage of TAA participants receiving food stamp benefits was 2.9 percentage points higher, and the average food stamp benefit amount was $201 more than nonparticipants during the follow-up period.
Considerations for Interpreting the Findings
The study analyzed samples of new UI recipients. The authors noted that 28 percent of the TAA participants had lost their jobs and claimed UI benefits more than 90 days before their employer’s petition for TAA was certified and they became eligible for TAA benefits and services. It is possible that these TAA participants did not know about TAA initially. Some might ultimately have participated in TAA because they could not find new jobs quickly, and it is possible that the job search activities of those who knew about TAA were affected by anticipation of being eligible for TAA services. The authors conducted sensitivity analyses limiting the sample to TAA participants whose UI claim dates were after their employers’ petition certification dates (and their matched comparison workers) to show that the potential biases introduced by unobserved factors associated with not finding a job quickly and by anticipatory behavior were small and did not alter the study conclusions.
Causal Evidence Rating
The quality of causal evidence presented in this study is moderate because it was based on a well-implemented nonexperimental design. This means we are somewhat confident that the estimated effects are attributable to the TAA, but other factors might also have contributed.
Schochet, P.Z., D’Amico, R., Berk, J., & Wozny, N. (2012). Methodological notes regarding the impact analysis. Princeton, NJ: Mathematica Policy Research.