Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP)

Updated: Feb 09, 2018
Evidence Rating:
Suggestive Tier


  • Program:

    A welfare-to-work program that combines mandatory participation in employment and training services with earnings supplements for participants who do find work.

  • Evaluation Methods:

    A well-conducted randomized controlled trial (RCT) with a sample of 11,473 families in seven Minnesota counties whose welfare status ranged from long-term welfare recipients to new welfare applicants.

  • Key Findings:

    Sizable increase in employment and earnings, and reduction in poverty, for single-parent, long-term welfare recipients (but not for other welfare recipients or applicants).

  • Other:

    A limitation of the evidence is that this study was conducted prior to full implementation of the major 1996 federal welfare reform act, and it is unknown whether the findings would generalize to present-day welfare settings.

The Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP) was implemented as a pilot program in seven urban and rural counties from 1994 to 1998 and served as an alternative to the federal welfare program (Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC). Minnesota’s current MFIP program, adopted in 1998 as a successor to this MFIP pilot program, is based largely on the pilot, but has slightly different features (namely, stricter work requirements and less generous financial incentives).

Under the MFIP pilot program, when a welfare recipient or applicant went to work, he or she received a cash supplement amounting to a 20 percent increase in cash benefits to offset work-related expenses (e.g., transportation, work clothes, etc.). The MFIP pilot program also provided these individuals with full welfare benefits until their income (i.e., job earnings plus welfare benefits) reached 140 percent of the poverty line. By contrast, AFDC provided no cash supplement, and reduced welfare benefits one dollar for every dollar increase in earnings.

In addition, the MFIP pilot program required all participants who had received welfare for 1-2 years to participate in state-provided employment/training activities – i.e. job search assistance, education, or job training programs (whereas AFDC only included a training requirement for two-parent families). The MFIP pilot program also simplified the benefits process for its participants by combining AFDC, food stamp benefits, and state-funded cash assistance into one program with a single set of rules and procedures, and a single monthly payment.

The net cost of the MFIP pilot program to the government was between $2,500 and $5,900 more per family per year than AFDC in 2017 dollars (depending on the family’s demographic characteristics). These costs primarily consist of the pilot program’s more generous benefit payments and the cost of families’ continued enrollment in Medicaid while receiving benefits.

Click here for a more detailed description of the MFIP pilot program. See especially pages 3-10.

Click here for more information on the current MFIP program.

To see our full evidence summary:
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Gennetian, Lisa A., Cynthia Miller, and Jared Smith. “Turning Welfare into a Work Support: Six-Year Impacts on Parents and Children from the Minnesota Family Investment Program.” MDRC, July 2005. Click here for a link to this study.

Miller, Cynthia, Virginia Knox, Lisa A. Gennetian, Martey Dodoo, Jo Anna Hunter and Cindy Redcross. “Reforming Welfare and Rewarding Work. Final Report on the Minnesota Family Investment Program—Volume 1 Effects on Adults.” MDRC, September 2000. Click here for a link to this study.

Gennetian, Lisa A. and Cynthia Miller. “Reforming Welfare and Rewarding Work: Final Report on the Minnesota Family Investment Program—Volume 2 Effects on Children.” MDRC, September 2000. Click here for a link to this study.