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Work, Earnings, and Well-Being after Welfare: What Do We Know?


  • Maria Cancian
  • Robert Haveman
  • Thomas Kaplan
  • Daniel Meyer


The rapid reduction in Aid to Families with Dependent Children caseloads during its last two years, and the continued decline of participation following its replacement by Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, raise the question of how families who no longer receive cash assistance are faring. What are their economic circumstances? Are they better off after leaving the program than they were as recipients? How many of the mothers are working, and how much do they earn? Do they and their families continue to rely on other, in-kind assistance programs? If so, which ones? In this paper, we present evidence on the economic fate of single mothers who have left the welfare rolls. We summarize the results of earlier studies and then present findings from three approaches to this topic, one using national survey data, another using administrative data, and a few recent studies that use geographically targeted surveys. We conclude that reliance on administrative data provides the best option for evaluating the impacts of reform in the near future. We also recognize the limitations of these data and the need for survey data to supplement their findings.

Suggested Citation

  • Maria Cancian & Robert Haveman & Thomas Kaplan & Daniel Meyer, 1999. "Work, Earnings, and Well-Being after Welfare: What Do We Know?," JCPR Working Papers 73, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:wop:jopovw:73
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    Cited by:

    1. Harry J. Holzer & Michael A. Stoll & Douglas Wissoker, 2001. "Job Performance and Retention Among Welfare Recipients," JCPR Working Papers 231, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
    2. repec:pri:crcwel:wp02-11-ff-reichman is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Bruce A. Weber & Greg J. Duncan & Leslie A. Whitener (ed.), 2002. "Rural Dimensions of Welfare Reform," Books from Upjohn Press, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, number rdwr, December.
    4. Barbara L. Wolfe, 1999. "Poverty, children's health, and health care utilization," Economic Policy Review, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, vol. 5(Sep), pages 9-21.
    5. Rebecca M. Blank, 2002. "Evaluating Welfare Reform in the United States," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 40(4), pages 1105-1166, December.
    6. Laura Stander Connolly, 2000. "The Effect of Welfare Reform on the Incomes and Earnings of Low-Income Families: Evidence from the Current Population Survey," JCPR Working Papers 181, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
    7. Susanna Loeb & Mary Corcoran, 2001. "Welfare, work experience, and economic self-sufficiency," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 20(1), pages 1-20.
    8. Ayala, Luis & Rodriguez, Magdalena, 2006. "The latin model of welfare: Do `insertion contracts' reduce long-term dependence?," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(6), pages 799-822, December.
    9. Kwon, Hyeok Chang & Meyer, Daniel R., 2011. "How do economic downturns affect welfare leavers? A comparison of two cohorts," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 33(5), pages 588-597, May.

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