The Dynamics of Welfare Participation in Quebec
Few studies have examined the dynamics of participation in welfare in Québec and elsewhere in Canada. This paper sheds some light on that important topic, which is crucial for the understanding of the features and of the effects of welfare programmes, and for the analysis of possible reforms. For this, we use a large representative sample of welfare participants between 1979 and 1993. We find that the majority of new spells last for less than one year. Nevertheless, that a large proportion of ongoing spells are of long duration. We estimate for instance that the 50% shortest spells account for only 10% of total welfare spending. Overall, single men leave welfare more rapidly than single women, young people faster than their elders, and more educated individuals sooner than the less educated. The welfare reform of 1989 appears to have reduced significantly the rate of exit among participants under 30. Returns onto welfare generally occur shortly after exit, and at a rate which diminishes rapidly with time. Finally, we propose a measure of welfare dependence which comes up being almost twice as large for single-parent families as for all other categories.
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