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The Diversity of Welfare Leavers

Publication Date
Aug 31, 2000

Women who have left TANF in three cities--Boston, Chicago, and San Antonio--have an average employment rate of 63% after leaving, a rate similar to figures found in studies of welfare leavers in many other states. But this average obscures a large amount of variation across different groups of women, some of whom have done much better than this and some of whom have done much worse. Women with lower levels of education, worse levels of health status, with younger children, and who are themselves young have considerably lower employment rates and post-welfare income levels than women with greater levels of education, better health status, with other children, and who are older. Outcomes also differ among those leavers with a history of greater welfare dependence, a group not examined in other studies. The employment and, especially, income outcomes among these leavers are considerably worse than the average. These large differences in outcomes for different former welfare recipients should be examined by policymakers when they consider reforms to assist those who have difficulty attaining self-sufficiency off the welfare rolls. [27 PDF pages]