Welfare recipiency and welfare recidivism: An analysis of the NLSY data
This paper analyzes welfare recipiency and recidivism of first-time AFDC recipients over the 168-month (14-year) period from January 1978 to December 1991 using the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY) database. Duration of a single AFDC spell is short, but repeated welfare dependency is common. On average, 57 percent of former AFDC recipients return to the rolls after an exit and most of them come back within two years. Having a newborn is the most important direct cause for going on the AFDC rolls and for recidivism. The results from bivariate duration models suggest a negative correlation due to unobserved heterogeneity between the previous welfare recipiency and recidivism. An inverted U-shaped hazard function is found for both the first and second spells on AFDC and the intervening off-AFDC spell. Age, years of education or AFQT score, martial status, ethnic origin, and region are the significant correlates with a recipient's initial welfare dependency and recidivism. However, few variables have significant effects on the duration of the second AFDC spell and off-AFDC spell at the conventional statistical level.
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