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Alternative measures of economic success among TANF participants: Avoiding poverty, hardship, and dependence on public assistance

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  • Maria Cancian

    (La Follette School of Public Affairs and the School of Social Work, and an Affiliate, Institute for Research on Poverty, University of Wisconsin)

  • Daniel R. Meyer

    (School of Social Work, and an Affiliate, Institute for Research on Poverty, University of Wisconsin)

Abstract

Current debates about the success of TANF reforms have been obscured by the use of inconsistent indicators of success, as well as by measurement difficulties associated with alternative indicators. This paper considers conceptual and measurement issues associated with three different indicators of economic well-being: independence from public assistance, having income above the poverty threshold, and freedom from material hardship. Survey and administrative data from a sample of TANF participants illustrate the sensitivity of conclusions to alternative ways of measuring each indicator. Also considered is the extent to which dependence, poverty, and hardship coincide, or capture important differences in outcomes. The principles underlying TANF reforms have implications for appropriate measures of economic well-being, as the empirical importance of these implications demonstrates. © 2004 by the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management.

Suggested Citation

  • Maria Cancian & Daniel R. Meyer, 2004. "Alternative measures of economic success among TANF participants: Avoiding poverty, hardship, and dependence on public assistance," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 23(3), pages 531-548.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:jpamgt:v:23:y:2004:i:3:p:531-548
    DOI: 10.1002/pam.20025
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1002/pam.20025
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. John Iceland & Josh Kim, 2001. "Poverty among Working Families: New Insights from an Improved Poverty Measure," Social Science Quarterly, Southwestern Social Science Association, vol. 82(2), pages 253-267.
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    Cited by:

    1. Michelle Livermore & Rebecca Powers & Belinda Davis & Younghee Lim, 2011. "Failing to Make Ends Meet: Dubious Financial Success Among Employed Former Welfare to Work Program Participants," Journal of Family and Economic Issues, Springer, vol. 32(1), pages 73-83, March.
    2. Sandra Newman & C. Scott Holupka & Joseph Harkness, 2009. "The long-term effects of housing assistance on work and welfare," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 28(1), pages 81-101.
    3. Eamon, Mary Keegan & Wu, Chi-Fang, 2011. "Effects of unemployment and underemployment on material hardship in single-mother families," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 33(2), pages 233-241, February.
    4. Wu, Chi-Fang & Eamon, Mary Keegan, 2010. "Does receipt of public benefits reduce material hardship in low-income families with children?," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 32(10), pages 1262-1270, October.
    5. Coley, Rebekah Levine & Bachman, Heather J. & Votruba-Drzal, Elizabeth & Lohman, Brenda J. & Li-Grining, Christine P., 2007. "Maternal welfare and employment experiences and adolescent well-being: Do mothers' human capital characteristics matter?," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 29(2), pages 193-215, February.
    6. Notten, G, 2013. "Measuring performance : does the assessment depend on the poverty proxy?," MERIT Working Papers 031, United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
    7. Youngmi Kim & Jin Huang & Michael Sherraden, 2014. "What Shapes Assessment of Ability to Pay for Children's College Education?," Journal of Consumer Affairs, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 48(3), pages 486-514, October.
    8. Lenna Nepomnyaschy & Irwin Garfinkel, 2010. "Fathers' Involvement with Their Nonresident Children and Material Hardship," Working Papers 1271, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Center for Research on Child Wellbeing..
    9. Coley, Rebekah Levine & Lohman, Brenda J. & Votruba-Drzal, Elizabeth & Pittman, Laura D. & Chase-Lansdale, P. Lindsay, 2007. "Maternal functioning, time, and money: The world of work and welfare," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 29(6), pages 721-741, June.
    10. Cancian, Maria & Han, Eunhee & Noyes, Jennifer L., 2014. "From multiple program participation to disconnection: Changing trajectories of TANF and SNAP beneficiaries in Wisconsin," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 91-102.
    11. Wu, Chi-Fang, 2008. "Severity, timing, and duration of welfare sanctions and the economic well-being of TANF families with children," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(1), pages 26-44, January.
    12. Slack, Kristen Shook & Magnuson, Katherine A. & Berger, Lawrence M. & Yoo, Joan & Coley, Rebekah Levine & Dunifon, Rachel & Dworsky, Amy & Kalil, Ariel & Knab, Jean & Lohman, Brenda J. & Osborne, Cynt, 2007. "Family economic well-being following the 1996 welfare reform: Trend data from five non-experimental panel studies," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 29(6), pages 698-720, June.
    13. Roderick Rose & Susan Parish & Joan Yoo, 2009. "Measuring Material Hardship among the US Population of Women with Disabilities Using Latent Class Analysis," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 94(3), pages 391-415, December.
    14. Ayala, Luis & Rodriguez, Magdalena, 2006. "The latin model of welfare: Do `insertion contracts' reduce long-term dependence?," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(6), pages 799-822, December.
    15. Wu, Chi-Fang, 2011. "Long-term employment and earnings among low-income families with children," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 33(1), pages 91-101, January.
    16. repec:pri:crcwel:wp10-12-ff is not listed on IDEAS
    17. Geranda Notten, 2016. "How Poverty Indicators Confound Poverty Reduction Evaluations: The Targeting Performance of Income Transfers in Europe," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 127(3), pages 1039-1056, July.
    18. Luis Ayala & Magdalena Rodríguez, 2010. "Explaining welfare recidivism: what role do unemployment and initial spells have?," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 23(1), pages 373-392, January.

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