This article presents an assessment of welfare reforms under a framework of programme heterogeneity and alternative measures of success. The study focused on a specific programme – Madrid's Ingreso Madrileño de Integración (Madrid Regional Government's Welfare Programme) – which comprises heterogeneous sub-programmes. We tested whether work-related sub-programmes performed better than general activities aimed at improving life skills by analysing the effects on different types of outcomes. We also tried to identify which work-related sub-programme worked best. Our results show that intensive employment activities yield remarkably better results than general work-related schemes or life-skills activities. However, increasing work participation does not automatically lift participants out of material hardship.
Key Practitioner Message: ● Strategies to reduce the dependence of low-income households on government support by improving employment opportunities; ● Evaluation of alternative work-related sub-programmes in welfare policies; ● New evidence on approaches that consider heterogeneous sub-programmes and different types of outcomes might inform and partially shape the future public policy agenda in the welfare reform debate.