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The Duration of Spells on Welfare and Off Welfare Among Lone Mothers in Ontario

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  • Jennifer Stewart
  • Martin D. Dooley

Abstract

We use administrative data to provide a first look at the dynamics of social assistance use among lone mothers in Ontario between 1990 and 1994. The evidence is mixed concerning a "welfare trap." Welfare exit rates do decline during the first year of a spell but the support is weakest in our preferred specification. The data more consistently indicate the decline in exit rates from an off-welfare spell (the likelihood of recidivism) during the 12 months following an exit from social assistance. More months of welfare use during past spells are associated with both longer future spells on welfare and shorter future spells off-welfare, but the magnitude of both effects is quite small. The length of both welfare and off-welfare spells is very sensitive to the levels of welfare benefits. Welfare spells are longer for lone mothers who are younger, poorly educated, never married, not employable, and for those who have more and younger children. Spell lengths also increase with the unemployment rate and decrease with the minimum wage. Off-welfare spells are shorter for those lone mothers who are older, never married, not employable, and who have very young children. Off-welfare spells are longer when the minimum wage is higher.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by University of Toronto Press in its journal Canadian Public Policy.

Volume (Year): 25 (1999)
Issue (Month): s1 (November)
Pages: 47-72

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Handle: RePEc:cpp:issued:v:25:y:1999:i:s1:p:47-72

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References

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  1. Michael Charette & Ronald Meng, 1994. "The Determinants of Welfare Participation of Female Heads of Household in Canada," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 27(2), pages 290-306, May.
  2. Moffitt, Robert, 1992. "Incentive Effects of the U.S. Welfare System: A Review," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 30(1), pages 1-61, March.
  3. Christofides, L.N. & Stengos, T. & Swidinsky, R., 1996. "Welfare Participation and Labour Market Behaviour in Canada," Working Papers 1996-6, University of Guelph, Department of Economics and Finance.
  4. Allen, Douglas W, 1993. "Welfare and the Family: The Canadian Experience," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 11(1), pages S201-23, January.
  5. Plant, Mark W, 1984. "An Empirical Analysis of Welfare Dependence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(4), pages 673-84, September.
  6. O'Neill, June A & Bassi, Laurie J & Wolf, Douglas A, 1987. "The Duration of Welfare Spells," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 69(2), pages 241-48, May.
  7. Louis N. Christofides & Michael Hoy & Ling Yang, 2006. "The Determinants of University Participation," Working Papers 0608, University of Guelph, Department of Economics and Finance.
  8. Blank, Rebecca M., 1989. "Analyzing the length of welfare spells," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(3), pages 245-273, August.
  9. Garry F. Barrett & Michael I. Cragg, 1998. "An Untold Story: The Characteristics of Welfare Use in British Columbia," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 31(1), pages 165-188, February.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Fortin, Bernard & Lacroix, Guy & Drolet, Simon, 2004. "Welfare benefits and the duration of welfare spells: evidence from a natural experiment in Canada," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(7-8), pages 1495-1520, July.
  2. Guy Lacroix & Gino Santarossa & Pierre Gagné, 2003. "Une analyse de la dynamique de la dépendance à l'assistance-emploi des populations natives et immigrantes québécoises," Cahiers de recherche 0342, CIRPEE.
  3. Irvine, Ian & Finnie, Ross & Sceviour, Roger, 2004. "Welfare Dynamics in Canada: The Role of Individual Attributes and Economic-policy Variables," Analytical Studies Branch Research Paper Series 2004231e, Statistics Canada, Analytical Studies Branch.
  4. Ayala, Luis & Rodriguez, Magdalena, 2007. "Barriers to employment and welfare dynamics: Evidence from Spain," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 29(2), pages 237-257.
  5. Louis Christofides, 1999. "Social Assistance and Labour Supply," CESifo Working Paper Series 225, CESifo Group Munich.
  6. Irvine, Ian & Finnie, Ross & Sceviour, Roger, 2005. "Social Assistance Use in Canada: National and Provincial Trends in Incidence, Entry and Exit," Analytical Studies Branch Research Paper Series 2005245e, Statistics Canada, Analytical Studies Branch.
  7. Lars Osberg & Kuan Xu, 1999. "Poverty Intensity: How Well Do Canadian Provinces Compare?," Canadian Public Policy, University of Toronto Press, vol. 25(2), pages 179-195, June.
  8. Irvine, Ian & Finnie, Ross & Sceviour, Roger, 2004. "La dynamique de l'aide sociale au Canada : le role des attributs individuels et des variables economiques et politiques," Direction des etudes analytiques : documents de recherche 2004231f, Statistics Canada, Direction des etudes analytiques.
  9. Lori J. Curtis & Kate Rybczynski, 2014. "Exiting Poverty: Does Sex Matter?," Canadian Public Policy, University of Toronto Press, vol. 40(2), pages 126-142, June.

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