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The Duration of Welfare Spells


  • O'Neill, June A
  • Bassi, Laurie J
  • Wolf, Douglas A


Probability distributions for the duration of welfare spells are estimated. The principle guiding the work is that a recipient will not exit from welfare if the expected utility on welfare exceeds the expected utility of welfare. The analysis indicates that while the majority of welfare spells are of short duration, a nontrivial minority of spells are quite long. Those recipients with long spells are found to differ in predictable ways from those experiencing brief spells. This suggests that strategies to move women off welfare are unnecessary in many cases, and should be targeted on those most likely to be long-term recipients. Copyright 1987 by MIT Press.

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  • 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 241-248, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:tpr:restat:v:69:y:1987:i:2:p:241-48

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Robert J. Shiller, 1984. "Stock Prices and Social Dynamics," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 15(2), pages 457-510.
    2. Arrow, Kenneth J, 1982. "Risk Perception in Psychology and Economics," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 20(1), pages 1-9, January.
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