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The Relationship Between the Economy and the Welfare Caseload: A Dynamic Approach

  • Jeffrey Grogger
  • Steven Haider
  • Jacob Klerman
  • Elizabeth Roth

Nationally, the welfare caseload declined by more than fifty percent between 1994 and 2000. Considerable research has been devoted to understanding what caused this decline. Much of the literature examining these changes has modeled the total caseload (the stock) directly. Klerman and Haider (2001) model the underlying flows and show analytically and empirically that previous methods are likely to be biased because they ignore important dynamics. However, due to their focus on the bias of the stock models, they present only limited results concerning the robustness of their findings and utilize only a single measure of economic conditions, the unemployment rate. This paper examines the robustness of the basic stock-flow model developed in Klerman and Haider (2001), considering both richer dynamic specifications and richer measures of economic condition. The authors find that more complex dynamic specifications do not change the substantive conclusions, but richer measures of the economy do. While a model that only includes the unemployment rate attributes about half of the California caseload decline between 1995 and 1998 to the economy, models that incorporate richer measures of the economy attribute more than ninety percent of the decline to the economy.

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File URL: http://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/drafts/2008/DRU3003.pdf
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Paper provided by RAND Corporation Publications Department in its series Working Papers with number 03-06.

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Length: 46 pages
Date of creation: Apr 2003
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ran:wpaper:03-06
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  1. Timothy J. Bartik, 2003. "Local Economic Development Policies," Upjohn Working Papers and Journal Articles 03-91, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
  2. Bartik, Timothy J., 1996. "The Distributional Effects of Local Labor Demand and Industrial Mix: Estimates Using Individual Panel Data," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(2), pages 150-178, September.
  3. Rebecca M. Blank & Patricia Ruggles, 1993. "When Do Women Use AFDC & Food Stamps? The Dynamics of Eligibility vs. Participation," NBER Working Papers 4429, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Timothy J. Bartik, 1991. "Who Benefits from State and Local Economic Development Policies?," Books from Upjohn Press, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, number wbsle, June.
  5. Timothy J. Bartik & Randall W. Eberts, 1999. "Examining the Effect of Industry Trends and Structure on Welfare Caseloads," JCPR Working Papers 74, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
  6. Mary Jo Bane & David T. Ellwood, 1986. "Slipping into and out of Poverty: The Dynamics of Spells," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 21(1), pages 1-23.
  7. Olivier Jean Blanchard & Lawrence F. Katz, 1992. "Regional Evolutions," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 23(1), pages 1-76.
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