The Cliff Effect: New Approaches to Overcoming Self-Sufficiency Barriers
This report analyzes the impact of the cliff effect on social services recipients in the Cincinnati area to determine how to mitigate it. The Women’s Fund of the Greater Cincinnati Foundation partnered with Design Impact and CityLink to conduct in-depth research on the cliff effect and then used design thinking to propose a solution. Through their research, the team found that people were not financially worse off after losing benefits due to a wage increase, but they felt worse because their financial situation had not improved despite professional advancement. To combat the negative emotions surrounding the benefits cliff, the design team came up with multiple initiatives to make the entire benefits experience more positive, such as celebrating when clients achieved a wage increase that would cause them to lose a benefit.
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