Geographic Differences in AFDC and Food Stamp Caseloads in the Welfare Reform Era
The substantial economic expansion of the 1990s, coupled with the dramatic changes in the delivery of cash assistance in America, may have had differential impacts on welfare caseloads across geographic areas because of spatial differences in the composition of labor-market skills and welfare caseloads. We examine urban and rural differences in the impact of the macroeconomy and welfare reform on AFDC/TANF and Food Stamp caseloads using county level data from the states of Oregon and Wisconsin for 1990-1999. These states are credited with being early major innovators in the area of welfare reform, so it is of great interest to examine whether the business cycle and welfare reform have had a different geographic impact in these states. With the exception of Oregon's food stamp caseload, we find no statistically significant urban and rural differences in the long-run impact of the macroeconomy. However, we do find important geographic differences in the impacts of welfare reform on AFDC/TANF and food stamp caseloads across both states-the 1996 federal welfare reform legislation resulted in a more pronounced leveling down of urban caseloads relative to rural caseloads.
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