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Welfare reform data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation
July, 2001, Vol. 124, No. 7
In response to the rapid decline in welfare caseloads before and after enactment of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWO or simply welfare reform), considerable resources have been devoted to "leavers studies." These tracked the employment and income of families that have left the welfare rolls–the State programs funded by the Temporary Assistance for Needy Familes (TANF) block grant that replaced Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC). Leavers studies have been conducted by a variety of researchers in many States.1
By design, leavers studies could not provide any information about families that may have been deterred or diverted from coming onto the welfare rolls by the new welfare reform policies. In addition, the leavers studies were mostly limited to measuring the personal income of former welfare recipients, missing possible economic benefits from those living with other household members who receive income.
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1 State leavers studies are summarized in U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, "Summary of Research on Welfare Outcomes Funded by ASPE: Administrative Data Findings from Interim Reports" (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, April 2000); and "Welfare Reform: Information on Former Recipients’ Status," GAO/HEHS-99–48 (U.S. General Accounting Office, April 1999).
Also see Pamela Loprest, "Families Who Left Welfare: Who Are They and How Are They Doing?" Discussion Papers 99–02 (Washington, DC, The Urban Institute, 1999). Loprest presents information from the unique National Survey of American Families that asked 2-year retrospective welfare transition questions of a sample designed to provide State-level statistics for 13 States. A summary of research on the earnings of former welfare recipients and data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY) are available in Maria Cancian, Robert Haveman, Thomas Kaplan, Daniel Meyer, and Barbara Wolfe, "Work, Earnings, and Well-Being after Welfare: What Do We Know," Joint Center for Poverty Research Working Paper no. 5 (February 1999). A rich dataset from a three-city study describes characteristics and distinguish levels of dependence among leavers in Robert Moffitt and Jennifer Roff, "The Diversity of Welfare Leavers," Policy Brief 00-2, Welfare, Children, and Families Study (Johns Hopkins University, August 2000).
Labor Force Statistics from the Current Population Survey
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