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New Study Shows First Year of Guaranteed Income Providing Stability, Opportunity for Young Parents in Baltimore

Rockville, Md.  –   After one year, households participating in Baltimore’s two-year guaranteed income (GI) pilot—the Baltimore Young Families Success Fund (BYFSF)—have increased their income, were more likely to transition to independent living situations, and reported improved mental and emotional health. Abt Global is evaluating several GI programs in cities around the United States on behalf of Mayors for Guaranteed Income (MGI). These results demonstrate early potential for GI as an intervention to improve the overall well-being of young families. 

Who’s participating? 

The BYFSF designed a program to provide cash directly to young parents ages 18 to 24 so they can make financial decisions and investments in childcare, continued education, or housing as needed. More than 4,000 Baltimore parents submitted an eligible application, and 200 of these applicants are receiving the GI. An additional 130 applicants in the study’s control group are participating in the research but not receiving the GI. 

Generally, young people from ages 18 to 24 have the most potential to access training, employment, and housing opportunities that will enable them to build stability and social and economic mobility. These opportunities are harder to access when parenting a child, particularly a young child. In Baltimore, this “opportunity youth” cohort have historically faced above-average unemployment—between 14 and 19 percent—compared with the city’s average unemployment rate of 2.8 percent. In 2021,16 percent of all young adults aged 18-24 did not attend school or work and had no degree beyond high school, limiting their future employment opportunities.  


  • Six months into receiving the GI, BYFSF participants, who have an average household size of three people, reported an average income that was 90 percent higher than the control group’s: $26,926 versus $14,211. However, that higher income is only about $2,000 above the 2023 federal poverty level for a family of three. At 12 months, participants’ average household income for GI recipients fell to $23,608, approximately $1,200 below the federal poverty level, but was still higher than the control group’s reported income of $16,233. While the GI facilitated a significant improvement over the control group’s average income, it also illustrates the magnitude of the increase needed for young parents who applied for this program to earn a livable wage in Baltimore.  
  • One possible reason for the decline in income between the six month and one-year results is that BYFSF participants may be investing their GI in education, rather than using it to supplement their incomes. At the beginning of the study, 16 percent of BYFSF participants and control group members reported applying to college or a trade school; at 6 months, 24 percent and 15 percent did; and at 12 months, 27 percent and 13 percent did. Future analyses of data through the study’s 30-month follow-up will begin to show whether these educational aspirations came to fruition.  
  • By 12 months, labor force participation increased by 9 percent for the BYFSF participants, while the control group remained stable. This indicates that BYFSF participants did not leave the work force once they started receiving the GI 
  • Housing stability improved for recipients: the percentage of families who were living independently increased from 52 percent to 64 percent.  
  • BYFSF participants reported being less stressed. Stress is associated with poor mental health outcomes, and that stress is exacerbated for those who are unemployed and have low incomes. 

“Among the evaluations we’re conducting for MGI, we’re excited by the length of Baltimore’s BYFSF program,” said Haisheng Yang, lead study author. “The current data demonstrate that, one year in, young parents are showing early indicators of benefitting from this intervention. We’re seeing benchmarks that—when revisited at the program’s conclusion and then again six months later—will help us understand if two years is enough to provide opportunities for these families to succeed.” 

Read the report. 

About Abt Global   
Abt Global is a mission-driven consulting and research firm. Founded by Clark Abt almost 60 years ago, Abt has tackled society’s toughest problems, pioneering evidence and innovation that improves policy, systems, and lives. We partner with clients and communities in 50+ countries to advance solutions in health, technology, environment, economic growth, governance, and more. Our staff worldwide work to equip people with the tools, resources, and expertise they need to realize equitable futures, build resilient systems, and create sustainable economic opportunities for healthy, secure lives.   

Contact: Eric Tischler   
(301) 347-5492

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