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Analyzing Washington state's welfare program design, workfirst

  • Axelsen, Dan
  • Snarr, Hal W.

Much debate in the early nineties centered on whether the federal entitlement program Aid for Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) reduced welfare dependency. Many contend that AFDC discouraged work, increased welfare dependency, and undermined the institution of family. Partly in response to these criticisms, welfare was reformed through the Personal Responsibility and Work Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) in 1996. PRWORA modified the primary objectives of welfare by placing more emphasis on work experience accumulation and less on human capital accumulation. Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) was designed to meet this primary objective. Washington State’s TANF program, WorkFirst, utilizes a progressive system of programs (components) aimed at reducing welfare dependency through labor force participation. WorkFirst components have a variety of objectives including skills training, temporary subsidized employment, and mentoring. WorkFirst’s objective is to accumulate work experience of welfare recipients, thus making them more employable. More work experience should place upward pressure on wage rates, which then in turn reduces welfare dependency. We analyze the working decision as it is related to Washington State’s program design using a binary choice probit model. We find that welfare recipients who are enrolled in the later stage components of WorkFirst are more likely to find work and exit welfare than those that have only completed the initial components designed under WorkFirst. Cumulatively, WorkFirst seems to be an effective welfare program design.

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Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 37248.

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Date of creation: 2006
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Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:37248
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  1. H. W. Hoynes, . "Local Labor Markets and Welfare Spells: Do Demand Conditions Matter?," Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Papers 1104-96, University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty.
  2. J. P. Ziliak & D. N. Figlio & E. E. Davis & L. S. Connolly, . "Accounting for the Decline in AFDC Caseloads: Welfare Reform or Economic Growth?," Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Papers 1151-97, University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty.
  3. Timothy J. Bartik & Randall W. Eberts, 199. "Examining the Effect of Industry Trends and Structure on Welfare Caseloads," Book chapters authored by Upjohn Institute researchers, in: Sheldon H. Danziger (ed.), Economic Conditions and Welfare Reform, chapter 5, pages 119-157 W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
  4. Rebecca M. Blank, 1997. "What Causes Public Assistance Caseloads to Grow?," NBER Working Papers 6343, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. David N. Figlio & James P. Ziliak, 1999. "Welfare Reform, the Business Cycle, and the Decline in AFDC Caseloads," JCPR Working Papers 77, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
  6. Daniel Friedlander & David H. Greenberg & Philip K. Robins, 1997. "Evaluating Government Training Programs for the Economically Disadvantaged," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 35(4), pages 1809-1855, December.
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