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

  • 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)

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.

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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1002/pam.20025
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Article provided by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. in its journal Journal of Policy Analysis and Management.

Volume (Year): 23 (2004)
Issue (Month): 3 ()
Pages: 531-548

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Handle: RePEc:wly:jpamgt:v:23:y:2004:i:3:p:531-548
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/34787/home

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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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