IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this article or follow this journal

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

  • Jennifer Stewart
  • Martin D. Dooley

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.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: only available to JSTOR subscribers

As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

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

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

in new window

Handle: RePEc:cpp:issued:v:25:y:1999:i:s1:p:47-72
Contact details of provider: Postal: University of Toronto Press Journals Division 5201 Dufferin Street Toronto, Ontario, Canada M3H 5T8
Web page:

Order Information: Web: Email:

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. 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.
  2. Louis N. Christofides & Michael Hoy & Ling Yang, 2006. "The Determinants of University Participation," Working Papers 0608, University of Guelph, Department of Economics and Finance.
  3. Plant, Mark W, 1984. "An Empirical Analysis of Welfare Dependence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(4), pages 673-84, September.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Blank, Rebecca M., 1989. "Analyzing the length of welfare spells," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(3), pages 245-273, August.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cpp:issued:v:25:y:1999:i:s1:p:47-72. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Prof. Werner Antweiler)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.