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The Impact of Welfare Reform on Leaver Characteristics, Employment and Recidivism

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Abstract

Welfare reform has transformed the U.S. cash assistance program for single parents and their children. Although there remains substantial uncertainty about the importance of reform in producing the subsequent decline in the welfare caseload, even less is known about its impact on the experiences and well being of former welfare recipients. The analysis here focuses on the characteristics and employment of welfare recipients in the state of Missouri over the period 1990-1999. We find that there has been little change in the observable characteristics of those entering, on, or leaving welfare, but there has been a dramatic growth in the importance of employment for all these groups. We also examine the dynamics of employment and welfare recidivism comparing cohorts of leavers prior to and after welfare reform. We find that after welfare reform leavers are much more likely to be working, have higher total earnings, work for employers with similar characteristics, and are less likely to return to welfare. These results suggest that welfare reform has not materially harmed welfare recipients.

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  • Peter R. Mueser & Kenneth Troske & William J. Carrington, 2002. "The Impact of Welfare Reform on Leaver Characteristics, Employment and Recidivism," Working Papers 0205, Department of Economics, University of Missouri, revised 26 Aug 2002.
  • Handle: RePEc:umc:wpaper:0205
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    1. Dave M. O'Neill & June Ellenoff O'Neill, 1997. "Lessons for Welfare Reform: An Analysis of the AFDC Caseload and Past Welfare-to-Work Programs," Books from Upjohn Press, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, number lwr, November.
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    Cited by:

    1. Peter R. Mueser & Lael R. Keiser & Seung-Whan Choi, 2003. "Race, Bureaucratic Discretion, and the Implementation of Welfare Reform," Working Papers 0307, Department of Economics, University of Missouri.
    2. Mueser, Peter R. & Stevens, David W. & Troske, Kenneth, 2007. "The Impact of Welfare Reform on Leaver Characteristics, Employment and Recidivism: An Analysis of Maryland and Missouri," IZA Discussion Papers 3131, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    3. Chris Herbst & David Stevens, 2010. "The Impact of Local Labor Market Conditions on Work and Welfare Decisions: Revisiting an Old Question Using New Data," Population Research and Policy Review, Springer;Southern Demographic Association (SDA), vol. 29(4), pages 453-479, August.
    4. Jill Marie Gunderson & Julie L. Hotchkiss, 2006. "Welfare recipiency, job separation outcomes, and postseparation earnings: insight from linked personnel and state administrative data," FRB Atlanta Working Paper 2006-07, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs
    • I32 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Measurement and Analysis of Poverty

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