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Are We Understanding the Impact of Economic Conditions on Welfare Rolls?

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  • Dan Black

    ()
    (Syracuse University)

  • Terra McKinnish

    (University of Colorado)

Abstract

In this paper, we argue that welfare participation is more sensitive to economic conditions than previously believed. Why? Prior research focused on short-term economic fluctuations and ignored differences between high- and low-skilled workers. As welfare reform is long-term (i.e., permanent) it makes more sense to make comparisons with long-term economic trends. Also, since low-skilled workers are more likely to end up on welfare, it is proper to focus on their economic opportunities. Thus, we focus on the long-term impact of economic conditions on welfare participation, and we concentrate our analysis on low-skilled workers. Specifically, we analyze long-term changes in the supply of high-paying jobs for coal and steel workers as they affect certain heavy coal and steel-producing regions of the United States during the 1970s and 1980s. Our findings indicate that welfare participation in these regions closely mirrors the long-term local availability of high-paying jobs for low-skilled workers. This has serious policy implications for the long-term success of welfare reform.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre (BCEC), Curtin Business School in its journal Australian Journal of Labour Economics.

Volume (Year): 5 (2002)
Issue (Month): 4 (December)
Pages: 489-505

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Handle: RePEc:ozl:journl:v:5:y:2002:i:4:p:489-505

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Web page: http://business.curtin.edu.au/research/publications/journals/ajle/
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Keywords: Government programs; provision and effects of welfare programs Macroeconomics; employment; unemployment; wages; wage indexation;

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  1. Louis S. Jacobson & Robert J. LaLonde & Daniel Sullivan, 1992. "Earnings Losses of Displaced Workers," Upjohn Working Papers and Journal Articles 92-11, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
  2. Stacy Dickert & Scott Houser & John Karl Scholz, 1995. "The Earned Income Tax Credit and Transfer Programs: A Study of Labor Market and Program Participation," NBER Chapters, in: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 9, pages 1-50 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. John M. Fitzgerald, 1995. "Local labor markets and local area effects on welfare duration," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 14(1), pages 43-67.
  4. Carrington, William J & Zaman, Asad, 1994. "Interindustry Variation in the Costs of Job Displacement," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 12(2), pages 243-75, April.
  5. V. Joseph Hotz, 2003. "The Earned Income Tax Credit," NBER Chapters, in: Means-Tested Transfer Programs in the United States, pages 141-198 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Rebecca M. Blank, 2001. "What Causes Public Assistance Caseloads to Grow?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 36(1), pages 85-118.
  7. Bruce D. Meyer & Dan T. Rosenbaum, 1998. "Welfare, the Earned Income Tax Credit, and the Labor Supply of Single Mothers," JCPR Working Papers 32, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
  8. Timothy J. Bartik & Randall W. Eberts, 1999. "Examining the Effect of Industry Trends and Structure on Welfare Caseloads," Upjohn Working Papers and Journal Articles 99-54, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
  9. David N. Figlio & James P. Ziliak, 1999. "Welfare Reform, the Business Cycle, and the Decline in AFDC Caseloads," JCPR Working Papers 77, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
  10. Rebecca M. Blank, 1999. "What Goes Up Must Come Down? Explaining Recent Changes in Public Assistance Caseloads," JCPR Working Papers 78, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
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