This study includes three treatment conditions, one control condition, and a reference group. In the control condition, claimants are subject to the rules and regulation of the Dutch status quo social welfare regime. It is instructive to briefly introduce the status quo regime. Social welfare in the Netherlands is a non-contributory transfer program that provides monthly income support to poor households identified based on a means and work test. The regulations are extensive and complex, which is why we focus on the most important rules and regulations. The regime foresees a monthly transfer payment of maximum 992 EUR for a single-person household. On top of that welfare, claimants may be eligible for child, housing and healthcare allowances. The policy is designed as a temporary safety net aiming to deliver income support until recipients can provide for their own income again (mostly by finding employment). Accordingly, welfare recipients have to comply with certain rules, such as writing application letters, accepting job offers or following skill-development programs. Recipients that fail to comply with the rules may be sanctioned by freezing or cutting their monthly payment. Exemptions apply to those who are incapacitated for work or face severe health problems. Local governments (municipalities and regional councils) are charged with the task of executing the scheme.
In the three treatment conditions, the rules and regulations are varied. The three interventions tested are: (1) Self in action: claimants are exempted from the usual obligations to maintain their beneﬁt, such as applying for jobs or joining reintegration programs; (2) Extra guidance: claimants receive extra support through intensive coaching and mediation from the welfare agency (Municipality of Wageningen); (3) Work pays: claimants are offered intensive coaching and have extended earnings release (benefit retention) from part-time or full-time work. Additionally, we use administrative data to follow a reference group of randomly selected claimants who were not invited to participate in the trial.