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Welfare Reform, Work Requirements, and Employment Barriers


  • Ellen Meara
  • Richard Frank


The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act imposed work requirements on welfare recipients. Using 1999-2001 data from Boston, Chicago, and San Antonio, we compared the labor market and welfare experience of women with four employment barriers: poor mental health, moderate to heavy drug and alcohol use, a child with a behavior problem, and a child under the age of 3. Women with poor mental health and drug and alcohol users were much less likely to move into work than other groups, and more likely to be sanctioned for noncompliance with welfare requirements in 2000-2001 as federal work participation requirements increased

Suggested Citation

  • Ellen Meara & Richard Frank, 2006. "Welfare Reform, Work Requirements, and Employment Barriers," NBER Working Papers 12480, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12480
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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Jeffrey Grogger, 2003. "The Effects of Time Limits, the EITC, and Other Policy Changes on Welfare Use, Work, and Income among Female-Headed Families," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 85(2), pages 394-408, May.
    2. Susan L. Ettner & Richard G. Frank & Ronald C. Kessler, 1997. "The Impact of Psychiatric Disorders on Labor Market Outcomes," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 51(1), pages 64-81, October.
    3. Susan L. Ettner & Richard G. Frank & Ronald C. Kessler, 1997. "The Impact of Psychiatric Disorders on Labor Market Outcomes," NBER Working Papers 5989, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. A. Thomas Mclellan & Marjorie Gutman & Kevin Lynch & James R. Mckay & Robert Ketterlinus & Jon Morgenstern & Diana Woolis, 2003. "One-Year Outcomes from the Casaworks for Families Intervention for Substance-Abusing Women on Welfare," Evaluation Review, , vol. 27(6), pages 656-680, December.
    5. Robert A. Moffitt, 2003. "Means-Tested Transfer Programs in the United States," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number moff03-1, January.
    6. Jacob Alex Klerman & Steven J. Haider, 2004. "A Stock-Flow Analysis of the Welfare Caseload," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(4).
    7. Haider, Steven J. & Klerman, Jacob Alex, 2005. "Dynamic properties of the welfare caseload," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(5), pages 629-648, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Chatterji, Pinka & Meara, Ellen, 2010. "Consequences of eliminating federal disability benefits for substance abusers," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(2), pages 226-240, March.
    2. Ayala, Luis & Rodríguez, Magdalena, 2013. "Health-related effects of welfare-to-work policies," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 93(C), pages 103-112.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I3 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty
    • J08 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General - - - Labor Economics Policies

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