Cohabitation and Marriage Rules in State TANF Programs

08/30/2009

Cohabitation and Marriage Rules in State TANF Programs

by: Robert A. Moffitt, Johns Hopkins University Robert T. Reville, RAND Corporation Anne E. Winkler, University of Missouri, St. Louis Jane McClure Burstain, RAND Corporation

August, 2008 Revised, February 2009

Presented in Fulfillment of HHS-100-02-001, Task Orders 1 and 2

This report is available on the Internet at:http://aspe.hhs.gov/hsp/09/CohabitationMarriageRules/

Printer friendly version in PDF format (69 pages) [Free PDF reader exit disclaimer]

[ Skip Navigation ]

Contents

Executive Summary

Acknowledgements

Cohabitation and Marriage Rules in State TANF Programs

Appendices:

  1. Appendix A
  2. Appendix B
  3. Appendix C

References

List of Tables

  1. TANF Rules and Policies Regarding Marriage and Cohabitation, 2006
  2. AFDC/TANF Policies Affecting Unrelated Cohabitors, 1993 and 2006
  3. AFDC/TANF Treatment of Step-Fathers Regarding Eligibility, 1993 and 2006
  4. AFDC/TANF Treatment of In-kind Contributions and Vendor Payments for Shelter (Rent and Utilities), 1993 and 2006
  5. AFDC/TANF Treatment of Cash Payments for Shared Household Expenses, 1993 and 2006
  6. AFDC/TANF Maximum Grant, 1993 and 2006
  7. Cohabitation Rates, 1990 2000, by Change in Generosity of Policy Toward Unrelated Cohabitors

Executive Summary

In recent years, there has been continued interest in marriage, cohabitation, and the welfare system.  Most recently, the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 provided $150 million annually in funds for initiatives to promote healthy marriages based on the perception that married couples are more stable, among other potential benefits for families and children.

What is still relatively unknown is whether the recent push for marriage initiatives and the discretion afforded to states under welfare reform has translated into TANF rules or regulations that favor marriage and discourage cohabitation.  To answer this question, we first conducted a systematic review of TANF manuals for the 50 states and the District of Columbia (DC) from 2002-2004, using information available both on line and at the Urban Institute, to identify rules regarding cohabitation, marriage, and shared living arrangements (2002-2004 Manual Review).  To further clarify and flesh out the information we compiled from the TANF manuals, we conducted telephone interviews with TANF officials from the 50 states and D.C. from May to October 2006 (2006 Telephone Survey).

Our research focused primarily on identifying differences in how the eligibility of a family is treated depending on the household adult(s) relationship to the children, and, to the extent it matters, marital status. In TANF rules, as was the case in AFDC, the key distinction between types of families is not made on the basis of marriage, but on whether the adults are (or are not) the natural or adoptive parents of the child.  In addition, our research focused particularly on rules governing unrelated cohabitors, which are less well understood.  For example, we also investigated how financial contributions from unrelated cohabitors are treated.  Finally, we also investigated how work rules vary across types of families.

We examined four different types of families based on the relationship between the adult(s) and children:

  1. Couples where the adults are the biological or adoptive parents of all the children in the home (biological families).  These families may be married or unmarried.
  2. Couples where the male is the biological or adoptive father of some, but not all, of the children in the home (blended families).  Again, these families may be married or unmarried.
  3. Unmarried couples where the male is not the biological or adoptive father of any of the children in the home (unrelated cohabitor families).
  4. Married couples where the male is not the biological or adoptive father of any of the children in the home (step-parent families).

In the 2006 Survey, we inquired about any specific policies aimed at promoting marriage.  And for each type of family we investigated how the male and his financial resources were treated with respect to eligibility rules and whether this differed with respect to marital status.  For biological families, we also inquired about work requirement rules, asset tests and income eligibility tests. For unrelated cohabitor families, we also examined the following issues: 

  • How the states treat an unrelated cohabitors in-kind or vendor payments on behalf of the recipient and cash contributions directly to the recipient.
  • Whether the states have any explicit policies regarding shared living arrangements.
  • Whether the states have any other explicit policies regarding unrelated cohabitors or whether it simply treats them the same as any other unrelated individual in the household (i.e., a roommate).
  • Finally, we compared our findings from our 2006 Survey to those from a similar survey conducted in 1993, and we also conducted a preliminary data analysis of whether changes in cohabitation rules, as identified in our survey work, had any effect on actual cohabitation rates.

Summary of Findings from the 2006 Survey

We found that most, but not all, TANF eligibility rules for the four family types vary across the states.

  1. Biological Families:  Two-parent families are universally treated the same under TANF rules regardless of marital status inasmuch as both parents are included in the assistance unit.
  2. Blended Families:  Eighteen states have more favorable treatment for such families if they are unmarried.  In these states, if the couple is unmarried, the male can be excluded from the assistance unit if his income disqualifies the entire family.  If excluded, his income is disregarded.  If the couple is married, however, the male is either automatically included in the unit or, if excluded, some portion of his income is counted towards the familys eligibility. In the other 33 states, the male is automatically included or his income is counted regardless of marital status.
  3. Unrelated Cohabitor Families:  Generally, an unrelated cohabitor is treated like any other unrelated individual living in the home and his income is not considered in calculating a familys eligibility.
  4. Step-parent Families:  Twenty-one states include, and 20 states exclude, step-parents from the assistance unit, while 10 make the step-parents inclusion optional.  In most states where a step-parent is not included, some portion of the step-parents income is considered in calculating a familys eligibility.

For work requirements in connection with biological families, we found that marital status makes no difference.  Given the limited nature of our study on this issue, we cannot comment on any differences in or impact of work rules in connection with blended, unrelated cohabitor or step-parent families.

We also found significant variation in rules governing financial relationships in unrelated cohabitor families: 

  • Shelter In-Kind Contributions/Vendor Payments: Thirty-six states completely disregard such contributions, 10 states have a qualified disregard, and 5 states take account of the contribution in calculating the familys standard of need.
  • Cash Payments to a Recipient for Shared Household Expenses: Twenty-one states completely disregard such payments, 1 state has a qualified disregard, 4 states take account of such payments in calculating the familys standard of need, and 25 states count such payments as unearned income.
  • Other Relevant Policies Regarding Cohabitation:
    • Shared Living Arrangements.  Four states automatically reduce a recipients grant when she lives in the same residence with another adult.  And one state reduces a recipients grant when another adult living in the home pays any amount towards shelter costs.
    • Legal Responsibility States.  One state imposes a legal responsibility on unrelated cohabitors (but not on other individuals in the household) to make a contribution to the family equal to the cost of his portion of the living expenses.  In another state, the income of an unrelated, opposite-sex cohabitor (after certain deductions) is counted towards the familys eligibility.
    • States with Explicit Policies Regarding Marriage:  Eight states now have some form of explicit marriage bonus such as providing a higher earned income disregard or disregarding a new spouses income for a period of time.

Changes Since 1993

We conducted an almost identical study in 1993, where we documented rules as they existed in that year under AFDC.  We compared the 2006 TANF rules to the 1993 AFDC rules.  Our findings are as follows:

  • Biological two-parent families continue to be treated the same regardless of marital status inasmuch as the biological father is always included in the assistance unit.
  • Unrelated cohabitors continue to be excluded from the assistance unit.
  • As in 1993, states continue to vary considerably in their treatment of cash and in-kind contributions from unrelated cohabitors. Nevertheless, a comparison of the 1993 and 2006 findings suggest that several states have changed their specific policies over the period.
  • Several states continue to have explicit policies that directly affect unrelated cohabitors.  In both 1993 and 2006, Californias policy includes specific language that requires an unrelated cohabitor to make a contribution to the assistance unit, though this language has changed slightly.  Other states, like Virginia, have discontinued their explicit policy, while Oklahoma adopted a policy that requires a portion of the income of an unrelated cohabitor to be considered in determining the familys eligibility.
  • A greater number of states now require that a step-parent be included in the assistance unit (21 in 2006 vs. 7 in 1993). In addition, a greater number of states permit their inclusion to be optional, depending on the economic circumstances of the family (10 in 2006 vs. 3 in 1993).
  • Eight states have adopted explicit policies that favor marriage.
  • Work requirement rules have changed since 1993, with the greater participation rates imposed in the wake of PRWORA, particularly on families where the male is included in the unit.  A slight countervailing change was the elimination by most states of the 30-day waiting period rule and 100 hours work rule imposed on the principal earner of a two-parent family, thereby easing eligibility for two-parent families.

We did not study blended families in 1993 and hence cannot determine whether rules for such families have changed over time.

Conclusions from Surveys

Our surveys show that the incentives of TANF-eligible women with children to cohabit or marry are affected by TANF program rules.  The way in which incentives are affected depends on the financial resources of the male with whom the woman might cohabit or marry and on the males relationship to the children.  The relevant TANF rules that affect these incentives are those governing eligibility, how the basic grant is structured, how blended families are treated, how unrelated cohabitors are treated, and work rules.

Concerning eligibility, our main finding is that if a male has financial resources, TANF provides the greatest disincentive to form and/or maintain a biological family, and the least disincentive, if not an incentive, to form an unrelated cohabitor family.  In a biological family, where the male is the father of all the children, he must be included in the unit and his resources counted.  In an unrelated cohabitor family, where he is father of none of the children, he is not included and his resources are not counted.  In addition, most states disregard unrelated cohabitor vendor and cash payments to the TANF recipient and her children.

Step-parent and blended families fall somewhere in between these two cases, with rules varying from state to state.  For stepparent families, where the male is unrelated to any of the children and is married to the mother, a little less than half the states require that the stepfather be included in the unit and about an equal number require his exclusion.  If included, his resources are fully counted and, if excluded, only a portion of his resources are counted.  For blended families, where the male is the father of some of the children the majority of states (65 percent) treat such families as biological and require the male to be included in the unit and his resources are counted.  In most of the remaining states, marital status does matter, and blended families are treated more favorably if they are unmarried than if they are married.

These findings point strongly toward disincentives to marry in general and specific disincentives to marry a male who is father of some or all of the children.  Reinforcing these incentives are work rules, which are imposed on the male if he is the father of all of the children regardless of whether he and the mother marry or cohabit, for example.  Working against these disincentives to marry, however, is the structure of the basic grant in those states which do not have a flat-grant structure.  In variable grant states, inclusion of the male in the unit will raise the basic grant, and this could fully or partially offset the disincentives arising from increases in countable resources and the work rules.

All of these incentives arise if the male in question has financial resources.  If he does not, the marriage-disincentive effects from increased countable resources no longer arise. Also mitigating these disincentives are policies adopted in certain states that ignore a new spouses income, although such disregards are only for a short period so the strength of the mitigation is unclear.

In sum, despite some states adopting express policies to encourage and favor marriage, the TANF eligibility and work-rule structures in these states appear to work against such policies.  Further, those structures may discourage marriage the most in the situations where the state would most want to encourage marriage, namely, where the male has financial resources.  In addition, the most favored living arrangement is not to remain single but to cohabit with a male who is not the father of any of the children.

Most of these rules were approximately the same in 1993, when we conducted our earlier survey, although we cannot compare incentives to form blended families because we did not examine such families in 1993.  One change is that many more states require the inclusion of step-parents in the unit. However, the major difference between 1993 and 2006 is probably in the work rules which, as we have noted, further decrease incentives to marry in many states and in some situations.

Data Analysis

Whether individuals in the low income population actually act on these incentives in their cohabitation and marriage decisions is a separate question which requires data analysis.  We conducted a preliminary investigation of this type.  We first reviewed the major household survey data sets to determine if they have adequate information on cohabitation, marriage, welfare usage, and other variables in both the pre-PRWORA and post-PRWORA eras.  We found that there is no ideal data set for this purpose and that most have rather severe limitations for our purposes.  We then conducted a preliminary investigation using the 1990 and 2000 Census data which focused on the effect of TANF rules on cohabitation rates rather than marriage per se, and which sought to determine whether women living in states where AFDC-TANF policy had become less generous over time resulted in decreases in cohabitation rates.  Our results showed no evidence of any effect of changes in policy on those rates.  However, the investigation had a number of important limitations, and we recommend further and more detailed analysis of this type for future work.

[ Go to Contents ]

Acknowledgements

First and foremost we wish to thank Anna Kasupski for invaluable assistance in pulling together the state rules from the manuals and making them coherent and organized.  We are greatly in her debt.  We also wish to thank Andrea Mejia, who did much of the early work before she left the project.  We wish to thank Gretchen Rowe and the Urban Institute for assistance in working with the caseworker manuals located at the Institute, and Donald T. Oellerich, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, Department of Health and Human Services, for comments on an earlier draft.  We also thank the National Institutes of Health for supporting the telephone survey under grant NIH R01 HD 27248.

[ Go to Contents ]

Cohabitation and Marriage Rules in State TANF Programs

In recent years, there has been continued interest in marriage, cohabitation, and the welfare system.  Most recently, the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 provided annual funds of $150 million to fund initiatives to promote healthy marriages (Administration of Children and Families website, 2007). Many have pointed to the considerable benefits of marriage, including lower poverty rates of married couples as well as research suggesting that, on average, children raised with two married parents tend to have better outcomes.  At the same time, others have been wary about such proposals because, among other concerns, marriage promotion may drain resources from traditional welfare and work programs.  Further, there is some question as to the long-term viability of such marriages, and whether such policies might even increase domestic violence, depending on how the polices are structured (for a discussion on both sides, see Horn, 2003 and Lichter, 2001).

What is still relatively unknown, but important to this discussion, is how the full set of government welfare policies encourage or discourage marriage, cohabitation, or other types of living arrangements and how this has changed over time.  From a telephone survey of state agencies in 1993 (Moffitt, Reville, and Winkler, 1996), we have some information about state-level rules relating to cohabitation under the AFDC program.  While AFDC treatment of two-parent, biological families was fairly uniform, states had considerable discretion in the treatment of unrelated cohabitor and step-parent families. But our knowledge about how these rules have been changed under TANF, or how blended families are treated, is quite slim.  There have been some attempts to learn about TANF rules of this type (Lewin, 2002; Center for Law and Social Policy, 2005), but there has been no systematic examination of state-by-state rules. 

Our research focused primarily on identifying differences in how the eligibility of a family is treated depending on the household adult(s) relationship to the children, and, to the extent it matters, marital status. In TANF rules, as was the case in AFDC, the key distinction between types of families is not made on the basis of marriage, but on whether the adults are (or are not) the natural or adoptive parents of the child.  In addition, our research focused particularly on rules governing unrelated cohabitors, which are less well understood.  For example, we also investigated how financial contributions from unrelated cohabitors are treated.  Finally, we also investigated how work rules vary across types of families.

Gathering such rule information is more difficult today compared to 1993. States are free to set their own rules and have no federal mandate for documenting them.  To help fill this void, the Urban Institute created the Welfare Rules Database (WRD), with funding from the Department of Health and Human Services, which documents many state rules governing major aspects of the TANF program.  But when we examined the WRD to determine if the rules we documented regarding marriage and cohabitation under the 1993 AFDC program had changed, we learned that the WRD was insufficiently detailed to make such an assessment possible. 

Accordingly, we took a two-step approach.  First, we reviewed TANF manuals for the period 2002-2004 and identified variation in state rules regarding cohabitation and marriage that were not fully captured in WRD. Second, in light of the variation in rules identified in this 2002-2004 Manual Review, we updated the protocol for the 1993 Telephone Survey used to obtain information about AFDC rules and used this updated instrument to conduct a new survey of the TANF rules prevailing in all fifty states and the District of Columbia.  Our goal was to collect information at the same level of detail (or even greater) as collected in the 1993 Telephone Survey.

A. Marriage and Cohabitation in TANF

Under TANF rules, there is no single unifying definition of a family or uniform treatment of the resources of males living in the home.  Moreover, the focus is usually on the males relationship with the children rather than on the couples marital status.  Given this context, we examined four different types of families based on the relationship between the adult(s) and children. (1) Couples where the adults are the biological or adoptive parents of all the children in the home (biological families).  These families may be married or unmarried. (2)  Couples where the male is the biological or adoptive father of some, but not all, of the children in the home (blended families).  Again, these families may be married or unmarried. (3) Unmarried couples where the male is not the biological or adoptive father of any of the children in the home (unrelated cohabitor families).  (4) Married couples where the male is not the biological or adoptive father of any of the children in the home (step-parent families).

B. Methods

Step 1: 2002-2004 Manual Review

We began by examining a sample of state TANF caseworker manuals and plans, along with the data collected in the WRD, to determine the nature and scope of what could be obtained from this source.  After doing this, we specified a set of questions, constituting a protocol, for which we would search systematically in all manuals.  This protocol was periodically updated and revised as we reviewed the manuals in response to new types of information that we saw to be available or new distinctions which we saw could be made, at least for some states.  As we noted earlier, most of the information we obtained is not systematically collected in the WRD.

The research assistants on the project analyzed TANF manuals, rules, and state plans (either in hard copy or electronic format) for all 50 states and the District of Columbia. While the majority of sources used are available online, not all states do so nor are all updates available online.  For the rest of the states, the Urban Institute graciously allowed us access to their caseworker manuals, which allowed us to complete our assessments for those states that produce only hard copy versions.

Considerable double-checking of the information was conducted.  One research assistant did much of the initial pass through the online manuals.  A second research assistant double-checked that work, checking it for completeness and accuracy, and filling in missing gaps.  The additional data were collected by again reviewing the on-line materials as well as hard-copy manuals available at the Urban Institute.  Because state caseworker manuals are updated at different times and become available online at different times, the actual dates of the rules reported here vary.  While the majority of manuals used received updates in either 2002 or 2003, a few go as far back as 2000 and some are as recent as 2004.  The vast majority are in the period 2002-2004.  However, there is no reason to think that there have been major changes in the TANF rules of the type we are examining over this period.

The primary difficulty that presents itself when using published caseworker manual information is the vast variation in manuals across states, which can complicate direct comparisons.  Without a nation-wide uniform policy, states are at liberty to develop their own terminology, procedures, and rules. The inconsistency in the organization of manuals, plans, and rulebooks can also make searching for relevant information a difficult process.  What is true for one state is not guaranteed to be true for another, eliminating the advantage of using time saving techniques in the collection of data.  Also, some states provide extremely detailed information, while others are sparser on details. Thus, when information is not provided in a manual, it is not fully clear how to interpret its absence: it could indicate an implicit negative rule or could be a result of simply not mentioning it.

Differences in terminology are very common.  There are, for example, various phrases referring to those benefit standards used to determine eligibility.  These include, but are not limited to: payment standard, need standard, payment allowance, benefit standard, and budgetary standard.  In general, states apply the same terms for income deductions, disregards, exemptions, and dependent/childcare deductions (with a few notable exceptions such as Georgias standard work deduction and Louisianas work incentive bonus), but vary with regard to which they offer.  Some states such as Michigan have only an earned income disregard, while others such as Mississippi allow for childcare, earned income and work incentive disregards.  Another difficulty is distinguishing between policies regarding cash contributions, vendor payments, and in-kind contributions.  The earlier telephone survey picked up important differences in the treatment of regular versus irregular cash contributions, but the manuals do not typically provide this degree of detail.  

It is also difficult to make comparisons because different manuals focus on different policy nuances. For instance, some state manuals provide information on how the treatment of cash contributions differs depending on its intended purpose (e.g. for shared living arrangements with an unrelated cohabitor), while other manuals are silent. In the latter case, it may be that there is no differential treatment, but it is also possible that this level of detail is not reported. 

For the reasons stated, findings from the Manual Review are informative, but they do not necessarily provide complete and consistent information on how rules differ from state to state.

We wish to note a few other caveats regarding the information we collected as well.  First, in examining differences in marriage and cohabitation rules, we tried to avoid duplication with the WRD. For instance, the WRD collects considerable, detailed information on work-related rules. We collected this information as well but we believe their review was more thorough. The WRD also provides information on hours of work required of single parents, but does not collect systematic information on this measure for parents in two-parent families.  We collected both pieces of information. Second, in some cases the manuals explicitly indicate cases in which something is not allowed (no) but in other cases, the manual is silent, leaving open the interpretation of the absence of information.  For instance, some states may (or may not) permit parents to divide hours between them; we only indicate what was specifically mentioned.

Findings from the Manual Review (only) are presented in Appendix Tables A-1 through A-3.  Given the much greater detail collected from the Telephone Survey, the results presented in this memo are based on combined information from the Manual Review and Telephone Survey.

Step 2: 2006 Telephone Survey

After completing the 2002-2004 Manual Review, we felt additional detail and clarification was necessary to adequately understand the nuances of the TANF rules and to more fully explore the issue of blended families which had not been addressed in the 1993 Telephone Survey and for which the Manual Review also did not provide complete information.

A telephone survey, designed similar to the one conducted by Moffitt, Reville, and Winkler in 1993, has several advantages over the Manual Review. Principally, in the 1993 Telephone Survey we found that we elicited systematic, detailed information by asking respondents about rules regarding a specific scenario (e.g. consider a single mother with 2 children; suppose she cohabited with an male unrelated to the child) and how eligibility and benefits would be affected.  As described above, a major limitation of relying exclusively on caseworker manuals is that manuals differ in their wording and in some states do not cover a particular topic in depth.  In addition, by conducting an updated telephone survey we can ask (virtually) the same question asked in 1993, so that we can directly compare differences in rules over time on a comparable basis.  Further, insufficient information is known about the treatment of certain living arrangements, such as blended families, and how this treatment differs across states.  Such information is best discerned by a telephone survey where a respondent can explain the treatment for a specific family arrangement.  Finally, the manuals do not provide clear information as to whether rules pertain to unrelated cohabitors (only) or more widely to unrelated or related individuals in the household (but not in the assistance unit, per se).

Accordingly, we updated the 1993 Telephone Survey instrument.  With respect to unrelated cohabitor families, we essentially asked the same questions as in 1993, updating the wording to reflect the TANF structure.  We eliminated all the questions from 1993 regarding AFDC-UP and inserted sections on biological two-parent families, step-parent families and blended families. Included in these sections were questions regarding the treatment of such families, both in terms of inclusion in the assistance unit and treatment of resources, as well as questions regarding marital incentives.  A copy of the final telephone survey protocol (Protocol) is attached in Appendix B-1. 

After we finalized the Protocol, we compiled a list of contacts for each state and D.C. and sent each of them an e-mail (with a copy of the Protocol attached) explaining our research and asking that they contact us to schedule an interview.  Some responded to the e-mail and for those that did not, we followed up with telephone calls and subsequent e-mails.  Over the course of May to October 2006, we were able to complete interviews with a representative from each state and DC who had knowledge of and experience with the states TANF rules.

All but four of the interviews were conducted over the telephone and by the same researcher.  The interviewees for Delaware, New Hampshire, New Jersey and Virginia completed the Protocol themselves and sent their answers to the researcher conducting the interviews.  To the extent necessary, that same researcher called the interviewees with any follow up questions or clarifications.

The interviews conducted via telephone were not recorded but the interviewer took notes and, occasionally, a follow up call for clarification was necessary.  After the interview was completed, each interviewee was sent an e-mail with a draft of his or her responses to the questions in the Protocol as stated in the interview.  The interviewees were given a period of time in which to review their answers and make any changes or additions they thought were necessary.  The 2006 Telephone Survey gathered information related to the following issues: 

  • Whether the state has any explicit policies regarding unrelated cohabitors.
  • How the state treats cash and/or in-kind contributions made by an unrelated cohabitor to the assistance unit.
  • How the state treats blended families.
  • Whether the state has any explicit policy encouraging marriage.

Step 3: Reconciliation of Findings from 2002-2004 Manual Review and 2006 Telephone Survey

We compared responses from the telephone survey with the information we obtained from the WRD and the 2002-2004 Manual Review.  For the most part, the telephone interviewee responses were in accord with the other sources.  For those responses that seemed in conflict with the other sources, we resolved the conflict in different ways.  For some, we consulted additional sources such as a states updated on-line TANF manual and found that the rules had changed over time and were now consistent with the telephone interviewee's responses. In this case, we used the latter. The rules we discuss below should therefore be interpreted as rules as of 2006.  For cases where there was still an inconsistency, we followed up with the interviewee and asked for clarification.  In most instances of conflicts, we determined that the interviewees response was accurate.  Finally, in a few cases we found the caseworker manuals were insufficiently detailed to capture nuances found in the telephone survey.  In this case, we again went with the latter.  A detailed explanation of the conflicts and how they were resolved is included in Appendix B-2.  The findings reported below reflect our best knowledge of the rules based on the sources and methods described above.

C. Summary of Findings

Table 1 shows our state-by-state findings for 2006 and Tables 2 6 provide state-by-state comparisons of the 2006 findings with the earlier 1993 findings for specific variables of interest. 

Eligibility We found that some TANF eligibility rules for the four family types vary across the states and some do not.

  • Biological Families:  Two-parent families are universally treated the same under TANF rules regardless of marital status inasmuch as both parents are included in the assistance unit.
  • Blended Families:  Eighteen states have more favorable treatment for such families if they are unmarried (AZ, CA, CT, DC, DE, IN, ME, MS, MO, NE, NV, NH, ND, OK, OR, PA, WA, WY).  In these states, if the couple is unmarried, the male can be excluded from the assistance unit if his income disqualifies the entire family.  If excluded, his income is disregarded.  If the couple is married, however, the male is either automatically included in the unit or, if excluded, some portion of his income is counted towards the familys eligibility. In the other states (AL, AK, AR, CO, FL, GA, HI, ID, IL, , IA, KS, KY, LA, MD, MA, MI, MN, MT, NJ, NM, NY, NC, OH, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VT, VA, WV, WI), the male is automatically included or his income is counted regardless of marital status. (See column (4) of Table 1.)
  • Unrelated Cohabitor Families:  Generally, an unrelated cohabitors income is not considered in calculating a familys eligibility. (See column (1) of Table 1.)
  • Step-parent Families:  Twenty-one states (AL, AR, ID, KA, LA, MI, MN, MT, NE, NH, NM, NC, OR, RI, SC, SD, UT, VT, WA, WV, WI) include, and 20 states (AK, AZ, CO, CT, DC, FL, GA, IN, IA, KY, MA, MS, MO, ND, OH, OK, TN, TX, VA, WY) exclude, step-parents from the assistance unit, while 10 (CA, DE, HI, IL, ME, MD, NV, NJ, NY, PA) make the step-parents inclusion optional.  In most states where a step-parent is not included, some portion of the step-parents income is considered in calculating a familys eligibility. (See column (5) of table 1).

Work Requirements  For work requirements, we found that states impose greater work requirements for biological two-parent families, whether married or unmarried, as compared with families where a male is not included in the unit.

Financial Relationships in Unrelated Cohabitor Families  We also found significant variation in rules governing financial relationships in unrelated cohabitor families:

  • Shelter In-Kind Contributions/Vendor Payments by Cohabitors : Thirty-six states (AL, AR, CT, DC, DE, GA, HI, ID, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, LA, MD, MI, MN, MS, MO, MT, NV, NJ, NM, NC, ND, OH, OK, OR, PA, SC, TN, TX, UT, VA, WV, WI) completely disregard such contributions, 10 states (AZ, CA, CO, FL, ME, MA, NE, RI, WA, WY)have a qualified disregard, and 5 states (AK, NH, NY, SD, VT) take account of the contribution in calculating the familys standard of need.  (See column (2), Table 1.)
  • Cash Payments To A Recipient For Shared Household Expenses: Twenty-one states (AL, AZ, AR, CA, DC, DE, GA, HI, IL, IN, IA, LA, MN, NV, NJ, OH, TX, UT, VT, WA, WI) completely disregard such payments, 1 state (MA) has a qualified disregard, 4 states (KS, NH, NY, SD) take account of such payments in calculating the familys standard of need, and 25 states count such payments as unearned income (AK, CO, CT, FL, ID, KY, ME, MD, MI, MS, MO, MT, NE, NM, NC, ND, OK, OR, PA, RI, SC, TN, VA, WV, WY).  (See column (3), Table 1.)
  • Other Relevant Policies Regarding Cohabitation:
    • Shared Living Arrangements.  Four states (KS, MN, ND, and WV) automatically reduce a recipients grant when she lives in the same residence with another adult.  And one state (SD) reduces a recipients grant when another adult living in the home pays any amount towards shelter costs.  (See column (1), Table 1.)
    • Legal Responsibility States.  One state (CA) imposes a legal responsibility on unrelated cohabitors (but not on other individuals in the household) to make a contribution to the family equal to the cost of his portion of the living expenses.  In another state (OK), the income of an unrelated, opposite-sex cohabitor (after certain deductions) is counted towards the familys eligibility.  (See column (1), Table 1.)

Marriage Bonuses

States with Explicit Policies Regarding Marriage:  Eight states (AL, ID, MS, ND, OK, TN, TX, and WY) now have some form of explicit marriage bonus such as providing a higher earned income disregard or disregarding a new spouses income for a period of time.  (See column (6), Table 1.)

Changes Since 1993

We conducted an almost identical study in 1993, where we documented rules as they existed in that year under AFDC.  We compared the 2006 TANF rules to the 1993 AFDC rules.  We found that many rules are essentially the same but some have changed:

  • Biological two-parent families continue to be treated the same regardless of marital status inasmuch as the biological father is always included in the assistance unit.
  • Unrelated cohabitors continue to be excluded from the assistance unit.
  • As in 1993, states continue to vary considerably in their treatment of cash and in-kind contributions from unrelated cohabitors. Nevertheless, a comparison of the 1993 and 2006 findings suggest that several states have changed their specific policies over the period.
  • Several states continue to have explicit policies that directly affect unrelated cohabitors.  In both 1993 and 2006, Californias policy includes specific language that requires an unrelated cohabitor to make a contribution to the assistance unit, though this language has changed slightly.  Other states, like Virginia, have discontinued their explicit policy, while Oklahoma adopted a policy that requires a portion of the income of an unrelated cohabitor to be considered in determining the familys eligibility.
  • A greater number of states now require that a step-parent be included in the assistance unit (21 in 2006 vs. 7 in 1993). In addition, a greater number of states permit inclusion at a states option (10 in 2006 vs. 3 in 1993).  For 2006, see column (5), Table 1.
  • Eight states (indicated above) have adopted explicit policies that favor marriage.
  • Work requirement rules have changed since 1993, with the greater participation rates imposed in the wake of PRWORA, particularly on families where the male is included in the unit.  A slight countervailing change was the elimination by most states of the 30-day waiting period rule and 100 hours work rule imposed on the principal earner of a two-parent family, thereby easing eligibility for two-parent families.

We did not study blended families in 1993 and hence cannot determine whether rules for such families have changed over time.

D. Detailed Findings

Except with respect to situations involving a male in the home who is the biological father of all of the children, there continued to be significant variation among the states with respect to the treatment of males in the home.

Eligibility

1. Biological Families

There were few significant changes with respect to two-parent biological families, where both adults are the natural parents of all the children in the home. At the time of the 1993 survey, all such families were potentially eligible for AFDC, regardless of marital status.  At the time of the 2006 Survey, not much had changed except that in North Dakota, two-parent families are only eligible if one parent is over age 65, and in Idaho and Wisconsin, there is a flat grant which does not change with the number of individuals in the assistance unit (although we did not expressly ask about how much the grant would change with the inclusion of another individual so it is possible that other states have this flat grant as well). 

As in 1993, in all fifty states and DC, once the family meets the basic eligibility requirements, a full biological father is included in the unit, regardless of the couples marital status, and the males income is treated exactly the same.

2. Blended Families

There was no real exploration of the intricacies associated with blended families in the 1993 survey.  Currently, 33 states (AL, AK, AR, CO, FL, GA, HI, ID, IL, , IA, KS, KY, LA, MD, MA, MI, MN, MT, NJ, NM, NY, NC, OH, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VT, VA, WV, WI) treat a blended family in the same manner as a family with a male who is the father of all the children:  the male is included in the unit, regardless of the couples marital status.  But 18 states (AZ, CA, CT, DC, DE, IN, ME, MS, MO, NE, NV, NH, ND, OK, OR, PA, WA, WY) have policies that treat a blended family differently, as shown in Table 1.

Thirteen of the 18 states (AZ, CT, DC, DE, IN, ME, MS, MO, NV, ND, OK, PA and WY) treat a blended family, whether the couple is married or unmarried, differently from a full biological family in that the male can be excluded from the unit if his income disqualifies the entire family.  Under those circumstances, the woman and her children are looked at as a separate unit.  In determining the eligibility of the woman and her children separately, if the couple is married, 12 of the 13 states (AZ, CT, DE, IN, ME, MS, MO, NV, ND, OK, PA and WY) treat the excluded male like a step-parent and his income is deemed.  When determining the eligibility of a married mother and her children separately, DC also excludes the mother from the unit.  If the couple is not married, the male is treated as an unrelated cohabiter and his income is disregarded, except in Oklahoma where the excluded male is treated like a step-father regardless of the marital status.

 In five of the 18 states (CA, NE, NH, OR and WA), treatment of the blended family depends on marital status.  In married couples, the male is always included.  In unmarried couples, the male can be excluded from the unit if his income disqualifies the entire family, except in Washington where the male can be excluded but only if he moved in with the mother after she began receiving assistance.  In all five states, if he is excluded, the woman and her children are looked at as a separate unit and the male is treated like an unrelated cohabitor and his income is disregarded, except in California where he is considered an excluded individual and the state tries not to penalize the family for not being married.

3. Unrelated Cohabitor Families

At the time of both the 1993 and 2006 Surveys, an unrelated cohabitor was generally excluded from the assistance unit unless the state had an essential person exception under which he could qualify.  For example, in Hawaii, any individual who lives in the home and provides a service for which the recipient would have to pay (i.e., child care) can be included in the assistance unit.

Table 2 summarizes the variation in explicit state policies regarding the treatment of cohabitors and/or shared living arrangements.  As outlined below, some states adopt a policy that explicitly treats cohabitors differently (Policy A), while other states adopt policies (e.g. treatment of shared living arrangement) that affect unrelated cohabitors as well as roommates (Policy B).

At the time of the 1993 survey, federal regulations prohibited attributing any portion of an unrelated male cohabitors income toward the assistance unit.  But California and Virginia required the unrelated cohabitor (but not other individuals such as a roommate) to make a minimum contribution to the household expenses and Oregon required unrelated co-residents to pay for the cost of their subsistence and the value of any lodging received. Kansas reduced the recipients grant if she lived with an unrelated male while South Dakota reduced the grant if the recipient was not the tenant of record (i.e., lived in someone elses home).  At the time of the 2006 Survey, there had been substantial changes to these policies.  Oklahoma adopted a policy requiring an unrelated male cohabitors income be deemed to the mother and her children.  California continued its contribution policy but expanded it so that if the unrelated cohabitor (but not other individuals) paid for all of a recipients needs, her grant was reduced.  Virginia no longer appears to have a policy directed at unrelated cohabitors and Oregon eliminated its co-resident policy.  Kansas expanded its policy to include any individual who was not included in the assistance unit and South Dakota changed its policy so that any time the recipient lived with someone other than the father of her children and he paid any amount towards household expenses, her grant was reduced.  Additionally, Minnesota, North Dakota and West Virginia adopted shared living reductions so that a recipients grant is automatically reduced if she lives with another individual (who is not a spouse or the father of her children).

States also vary in how they treat cash and in-kind contributions received from persons outside the assistance unit, e.g. unrelated cohabitors, as detailed further below.

4. Step-Father Families

At the time of the 1993 Survey, seven states (NE, NH, OR, SD, UT, VT, WA) included a step-father in the assistance unit, three states (CT, NJ, RI) made their inclusion optional and the remaining 41 excluded them.  Optional inclusion means that the needs of the stepparent and the mother and her children, as well as other economic circumstances of the family, are taken into account when deciding whether to include the stepparent. At the time of the 2006 Survey, almost half of the states changed their policies so that 21 states (AL, AR, ID, KA, LA, MI, MN, MT, NE, NH, NM, NC, OR, RI, SC, SD, UT, VT, WA, WV, WI ) included step-fathers, ten states (CA, DE, HI, IL, ME, MD, NV, NJ, NY, PA) made inclusion optional and only 20 states (AK, AZ, CO, CT, DC, FL, GA, IN, IA, KY, MA, MS, MO, ND, OH, OK, TN, TX, VA, WY) excluded them.  The specific states that exclude step-fathers (E) from the assistance unit, include them (I), or make their inclusion optional are detailed in Table 3.  In addition to changes in how step-fathers are treated vis-à-vis the assistance unit, a few states also changed the treatment of their income.  In 1993, deeming of income from the excluded step-father to the assistance unit was mandatory.  But by the time of the 2006 Survey, three states took advantage of the latitude afforded under welfare reform and changed their policy.  In DC and New Jersey, an excluded step-fathers income is disregarded, although, unlike a cohabitor, the mother must be excluded from the assistance unit.  And in Oklahoma, a step-father gets a ½ earned income disregard.   

The increase in states where a step-fathers inclusion is mandatory or optional may affect a recipients incentive to marry a cohabitor.  Since cohabitors are universally excluded from the assistance unit, such changes could induce recipients to marry unrelated cohabitors who have little or no income or resources as it would increase the familys grant (except in those states with a flat grant discussed below) without jeopardizing its eligibility.  This may especially be true in those states where general assistance (which would be the only other means of support for a single male with no income or resources) has dwindled or become restricted. Alternatively, in situations where a recipient resides with an unrelated cohabitor who has significant resources, a recipient may be disinclined to marry as a step-fathers income is included or deemed in calculating a familys eligibility but an unrelated cohabitors is not (except in Oklahoma)

Even in those states that exclude the step-father from the unit, there may be an inherent disincentive to marry an unrelated cohabitor who has significant income.  Except in Oklahoma, an unrelated cohabitors income does not affect a womans eligibility but an excluded step-fathers income is usually deemed income after allowable deductions (i.e., own support and outside support payments) to be available to the woman and her children.  As a result, a recipient who marries an unrelated cohabitor with income may no longer be eligible for TANF.  This disincentive is inherent even in DC and New Jersey where a step-fathers income is disregarded as in these states, unlike with a cohabitor, excluding the step-father also results in the mothers exclusion from the assistance unit.  In fact, Oklahoma is the only state that gives a recipient an express incentive to marry an unrelated cohabitor who has significant income as an unrelated cohabitors income is fully deemed but a step-father gets a ½ earned income disregard.   

Treatment of In-kind Transfers or Vendor Payments

States differ in how they treat in-kind transfers or vendor payments (payment to the landlord or utility company directly or purchase of food or clothing) received by the assistance unit from an individual not included in the assistance unit.

Table 4 indicates the variation from state to state in their policies regarding the treatment of such payments for a recipients shelter costs (i.e., rent and utilities). Overall, there was no significant change and there continued to be variation among the states.  In 1993, 34 states (AL, AK, AR, CA, CT, DC, DE, GA, HI, ID, IL IN, KS, KY, LA, MD, MI, MN, MS, MO, NV, NJ, NC, ND, OH, OR, PA, SC, TN, TX, UT, VA, WV, WI) disregarded such payments (most generous policy), 14 states (AZ, CO, FL, IA, ME, MA, MT, NE, NM, OK, RI, SD, WA, WY) had a qualified disregard in that such payments reduced the grant if they covered the entire cost and three states (NH, NY, VT) used the payments in calculating the recipients standard of need (least generous policy).  In 2006, 36 states  (AL, AR, CT, DC, DE, GA, HI, ID, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, LA, MD, MI, MN, MS, MO, MT, NV, NJ, NM, NC, ND, OH, OK, OR, PA, SC, TN, TX, UT, VA, WV, WI) disregarded such payments, 10 states (AZ, CA, CO, FL, ME, MA, NE, RI, WA, WY) had a qualified disregard and five states (AK, NH, NY, SD, VT) used the payments in calculating the recipients standard of need.  With respect to individual states, eight significantly changed their policies.  Three states became more restrictive.  Alaska and California moved from a full disregard of such payments to a qualified disregard and South Dakota moved from a qualified disregard to using the payments in connection with the standard of need.  Four states became more generous.  Iowa, Montana, New Mexico and Oklahoma moved from a qualified disregard to a full disregard.

With respect to the treatment of such payments for a recipients other needs (i.e., food and clothing) overall, policies did not change significantly as the vast majority of states continued to fully disregard such payments.  In 1993, 46 states had such disregard policies compared to 48 states in 2006.  Only California became more restrictive, moving from a full disregard to a qualified disregard while Colorado, Iowa and Virginia became more generous moving from a qualified disregard to a full disregard.

Treatment of Cash Payments for Shared Household Expenses

States also differ in how they treat cash contributions made by individuals such as an unrelated cohabitor for shared household expenses, as shown in Table 5.  As with the vendor payments, overall, policies did not change significantly, although there was a slight shift towards more restriction.  In 1993, 26 states disregarded such payments, none had a qualified disregard, three states used the payments in calculating the recipients standard of need, and 22 states counted such payments as unearned income (the least generous policy).  In 2006, 21 states (AL, AZ, AR, CA, DC, DE, GA, HI, IL, IN, IA, LA, MN, NV, NJ, OH, TX, UT, VT, WA, WI) disregarded such payments, one had a qualified disregard (MA),  four states ((KS, NH, NY, SD) used the payments in calculating the standard of need and 25 states (AK, CO, CT, FL, ID, KY, ME, MD, MI, MS, MO, MT, NE, NM, NC, ND, OK, OR, PA, RI, SC, TN, VA, WV, WY) counted such payments as unearned income. Interestingly, almost 40% of the individual states changed their policies in some way.  Alabama, Arizona, Delaware, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, New Jersey and Vermont became more generous moving to a full disregard while Alaska, Florida, Maryland, Nebraska, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota and West Virginia became more restrictive, moving from a full disregard to counting the payments as unearned income with Massachusetts moving from a full to a qualified disregard.

States with Explicit Policies to Promote Marriage

Overall, states became more pro-marriage with several states now offering an explicit marriage bonus.

No explicit marriage policies were identified in the 1993 survey.  In the 2006 Survey, however, eight states (AL, ID, MS, ND, OK, TN, TX, and WY) had adopted policies expressly providing for some type of benefit if the recipient married, as shown in Table 1.  As discussed above, Oklahoma has an earned income disregard for step-fathers.  Mississippi, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas provide that the income of a new spouse can be disregarded for a period of time and Idaho provides that only 50% of an excluded step-fathers income is deemed to the assistance unit.  In Alabama, all new applicants to an assistance unit can potentially get an income disregard, but the state makes it easier for new spouses.  Wyoming provides a higher earned income disregard for married couples and allows them to have two cars instead of only one.

In addition, a majority of states have eased work history and hours rules that prevailed under AFDC as identified in WRD; in 1996 over three-fourths of states had work history and hours rules as compared with just one-fifth of states in 2006. Nonetheless, TANF has created a new difference. While work requirements have been imposed on both single-parent and two-parent families, requirements are generally greater for two-parent families (as identified in our 2002-2004 Manual Survey), discouraging biological two-parent families, both married as well as unmarried.

States Maximum AFDC/TANF Grants

Table 6 shows that on average, grant amounts increased from 1993 to 2006, but they did not even begin to keep pace with inflation as the average grant only increased by about 7%.

At the time of the 1993 survey, maximum grant amounts (including any additional amounts allowed for high housing costs) ranged from a low of $120 (Mississippi) to a high of $950 (Alaska), for a difference of $830.  At the time of the 2006 Survey, 20 states (AZ, AR, CO, DE, FL, GA, HI, IN, IA, KS, MN, MO, NE, NC, NV, NJ, PA, RI, TN, and WA) had no change in their grant amount.  25 states (AL, CA, IL, KY, LA, ME, MD, MA, MI, MS, MT, NH, NM, NY, ND, OH, OR, SC, SD, TX, UT, VT, VA, WV, and WI) had increased their grant amount, ranging from a 1% increase in Vermont to a 42% increase in Mississippi, with an average increase of 20%.  Six states (AK, CT, DC, ID, OK, WY) decreased their grant amount, ranging from a 2.5% decrease in Idaho to a 15% decrease in Oklahoma, with an average decrease of 6.6%.  With these changes, there was a tighter distribution with the lowest grant at $170 (Mississippi) and the highest grant at $923 (Alaska), for a difference of $753.  But, overall, grants increased as the average grant was $426 in 2006 compared to $397 in 1993, with the medians at $396 and $366, respectively (the lower median reflects the relatively generous grants in the top few states). 

Although over half the states changed their grant amounts and the distribution tightened, the relative rankings remained the same.  Southern states (Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas, Alabama, Texas, Louisiana, South Carolina, Kentucky, North Carolina, Georgia) remained at the bottom while Alaska, California and Hawaii remained at the top.

At the time of the 1993 survey, 11 states (CT, IL, KS, LA, MI, NJ, NY, PA, VT, VA, WI)  had varying grant amounts based on the geographic location within the state. At the time of the 2006 Survey, 4 of these states (LA, MI, NJ, WI ) discontinued this practice and used a uniform grant amount throughout the state. 

E. Conclusions from Surveys  

Our surveys show that the incentives of TANF-eligible women with children to cohabit or marry are affected by TANF program rules.  The way in which incentives are affected depends on whether the male with whom the woman might cohabit or marry  has resources and on the males relationship to the children.  The relevant TANF rules that affect these incentives are those governing eligibility, how the basic grant is structured, how blended families are treated, how unrelated cohabitors are treated, and work rules.

Much of our investigation has concerned the criterion of eligibility. Our main finding in this respect is that if a male has resources, TANF provides the greatest disincentive to form and/or maintain a biological family, and the least disincentive, if not an incentive, to form an unrelated cohabitor family. Step-parent and blended families fall somewhere in between these two cases, with rules varying from state to state.

For example, if the male in question has financial resources, countable resources are increased the most if the woman cohabits with or marries a male who is the father of all of her children (creating a biological family), thus reducing the likelihood of being eligible.  At the opposite extreme, if she cohabits with a male who is father of none of the children (creating an unrelated cohabitor family), countable resources are much less affected because, with the exception of one state, the male's resources do not affect the family's eligibility.  Moreover, the vast majority of states disregard cohabitor vendor payments made on the familys behalf and many disregard cash payments by the cohabitor to the recipient if they are for shared household expenses.  A situation lying somewhere in between these two extremes occurs if the woman marries, rather than cohabits with, a male who is not the father of any of the children, in which case a step-parent family is created.  A little less than half the states require that the stepfather be included in the unit and about an equal number require his exclusion.  If included, his resources are fully counted and, if excluded, only a portion of his resources are counted.  A small number of states allow his inclusion as an option.

If the children in the family have multiple fathers, the woman may cohabit with or marry the father of some of her children (creating a blended family). In the majority of states (33), such families are treated as biological families whether married or cohabiting, and therefore the male is included in the unit and his resources are counted. In most of the remaining states, the male can be excluded from the unit if his inclusion disqualifies it, but marital status does affect how his resources are then treated.  Generally, these states treat blended families more favorably if they are unmarried than if they are married.

These findings point strongly toward disincentives to marry in general and specific disincentives to marry a male who is father of some or all of the children.  Reinforcing these incentives are work rules.  While those rules are imposed on the male if he is the father of all of the children regardless of whether he and the mother marry or cohabit, they are not imposed if he is the father of none of the children and he and the mother choose to cohabit, for example. Working against these disincentives to marry, however, is the structure of the basic grant in those states which do not have a flat-grant structure.  In this case, inclusion of the male in the unit will raise the basic grant, and this could fully or partially offset the disincentives arising from increases in countable resources and the work rules.

All of these incentives arise if the male in question has financial resources.  If he does not, any marriage-disincentive effects from increased countable resources no longer arise. In this case, incentives to marry or cohabit are only affected by work rules and any effect on the basic grant.  Just as before, these tend to work in opposite directions.  Nevertheless, the disincentive to marry is still less compared to the case where the male has resources.

Mitigating these disincentives are policies adopted in certain states that ignore a new spouses income, although such disregards are only for a short period so the strength of the mitigation is unclear.

In sum, despite some states adopting express policies to encourage and favor marriage, the TANF eligibility and work-rule structures in these states appear to work against such policies.  Further, those structures may discourage marriage the most in the situations where the state would most want to encourage marriage, namely, where the male has financial resources.  In addition, the most favored living arrangement is not to remain single but to cohabit with a male who is not the father of any of the children.

Most of these rules were approximately the same in 1993, when we conducted our earlier survey, although we cannot compare incentives to form blended families because we did not examine such families in 1993.  One change is that many more states require the inclusion of step-parents in the unit. However, the major difference between 1993 and 2006 is probably in the work rules which, as we have noted, further decrease incentives to marry in many states and in some situations.

F. Data Analysis

Whether individuals in the low income population actually act on these incentives in their cohabitation and marriage decisions is a separate question which requires data analysis.  We conducted a preliminary investigation of this type. 

First, we reviewed several data sets to determine their suitability for analyzing cohabitation and marriage rates of women in the low-income population along with their decisions to be on AFDC-TANF or not.  The ideal data set would have information on the low-income population regarding marriage, cohabitation, biological relationship of the adults to all the children, as well as welfare usage and other personal and family characteristics.  Ideally, as well, we would like such samples over time (i.e., in 1993 and 2006) to observe changes in marital status and living arrangements as state rules, as measured in our two surveys, change.  And, of course, the ideal data set would have state identifiers and a nationally representative sample spread across all states.

We reviewed the National Survey of Americas Families (NSAF), the National Survey of Families and Households (NSFH), The National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG), the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY), The Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID), the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP), the Survey of Panel Dynamics (SPD), the Current Population Survey (CPS), the American Community Survey (ACS), and the Decennial Census (CENSUS).  Regrettably, we found no data set that would satisfy all the requirements for a study of our type.  Many of the data sets have weak definitions of cohabitation (e.g., the PSID, NLSY, ACS, SIPP, SPD, and CPS). Other data sets have sample sizes that would be far too small for an adequate analysis of cohabitation rates, which is still a relatively rare category, among less-educated women (PSID, NLSY).  Some data sets do not have samples that cover both the pre-1996 era and the current era (NSAF).  In addition, most data sets do not identify whether the relationship of the children in a family to cohabitors, who are usually not classified as the head, are biological or non-biological, although there are some exceptions (NSFG, NSFH). 

On the basis of our review, we determined that the Decennial Census (CENSUS) satisfies the minimal requirements for a satisfactory data set and would be the easiest and most accessible for a preliminary investigation.  It is available in two years, 1990 and 2000, that span the pre-PRWORA and post-PRWORA period when most of the rules that changed did so.  It has relatively large sample sizes and is nationally representative.  However, its cohabitation information is not ideal.  While there was a direct question in each year asking whether each adult was or was not an unmarried partner of the head, the responses are widely thought to underreport the extent of cohabitation.  If the direct question is not used, one must use alternative definitions that have been developed which determine if there is an unrelated male in the household who might be a cohabitator.  A final disadvantage of the CENSUS is that it provides inadequate information on the biological relationship of the children to any actual or potential cohabitors to be able to analyze the issue.

Our analysis of the data selected all female household heads or spouses of heads in each year that had less than a high school education and were over the age of 15.  For the sample in each year, we calculated marriage and cohabitation rates.  We then matched the data to data collected on rules.  The data collected revealed that most of the changes that occurred governed the treatment of cohabitors, so our analysis focused on whether the effects of changes in rules of this type affected cohabitation rates among the women in our sample.  We classified states by three different changes in cohabitation rules between 1993, as measured in our 1993 Telephone Survey, to 2002-2004, as measured in our 2002-2004 Manual Survey: whether their treatment of in-kind contributions by cohabitors became less generous over time or not; whether their treatment of cash contributions by cohabitors became less generous over time or not; and whether they introduced more restrictive policy rules toward cohabitors in general or not.  No states became more generous in these respects over time.

The results of the analysis are shown in Table 7.  For example, using the direct question about cohabitation in the CENSUS, women living in states whose policy toward in-kind contributions became less generous over time had a cohabitation rate of 2.3 percent in 1990 and 4.3 percent in 2000, a 2.0 percentage point increase.  Thus, cohabitation rates increased rather than decreased.  However, there may have been a general national increase in cohabitation rates over the period, so the proper comparison is with women living in states where the policy did not change.  The table shows that cohabitation rates of women living in those states went from 2.3 percent to 3.9 percent using the direct question, a change of 1.6 percentage point.  Comparing women in the two types of states, therefore, those women living in the states where the policy toward cohabitation became less generous had increases in cohabitation rates that were, indeed, greater than those in other states; the difference is 0.4 percent.  Thus we find no evidence, for this particular change in policy, of any effect of the change in the cohabitation rule on cohabitation rates.

The next four rows in the table show the results using other measures of cohabitation in the CENSUS (see footnotes to the table for definitions). The cohabitation rates differ somewhat across definitions but all show increases in cohabitation rates from 1990 to 2000 in those states where in-kind policies became less generous.  However, once again, increases in cohabitation rates were smaller in the comparison states, leading to the same conclusions as for the direct measure.

The second and third panels in the table show the results when dividing states into those whose policy toward cash contributions became less generous and those whose specific state policies toward cohabitors became less generous.  In these states, cohabitation rates increased for all measures of cohabitation, but at almost identical rates as in comparison states.  Thus, once again, we find no evidence that cohabitation rates were affected by changes in cohabitor policy.

While this evidence is suggestive, there are many reasons that it is not definitive.  First, we have not controlled for other changes that may be occurring across states in other policies or in other determinants of cohabitation.  With respect to policy, the massive  changes which occurred as a result of PRWORA could have had their own effects on cohabitation.  Second, we have not controlled for other individual characteristics and therefore have not examined subgroups of women, e.g. those who are younger and have higher welfare participation rates, or for minority status (minority women are less likely to cohabit and more likely to use welfare).  Third, we have not examined TANF participation itself.  Fourth, we have not been able to separate biological from non-biological cohabitors, a key factor in the TANF rules.  Fifth, we have not attempted to determine the degree to which the cohabitation rules are actually enforced or for how well the rules are understood by recipients.  If they are effectively not enforced by caseworkers, possibly because detection is too difficult, or if recipients do not perceive or understand the rules, changes in cohabitation rules should not be expected to have any effect. Sixth, we have not examined marriage rates or changes in those rates in response to changes in marriage rules in TANF.  Seventh, we have not examined whether the other changes in TANF rules over the period (e.g., time limits) may have affected incentives to marry and cohabit.

There is much room for additional analysis to address these issues, either with this data set or alternative data sets.  We suggest such analyses for the future.

TABLE 1 TANF RULES AND POLICIES REGARDING MARRIAGE AND COHABITATION 2006[1]
  (1) Policy Specifically Directed At Cohabitors (other than vendor or cash payments[2] (2) Treatment of Vendor Payments for Rent and Utilities[3] (3) Treatment of Cash Payments To Recipient For Shared Household Expenses[4] (4) Treatment of Blended Families[5] (5)Treatment of Step-fathers [6] (6)Explicit Pro-Marriage Policies[7]) (7) Max Grant for 3 person family
Alabama A A A C I A $215
Alaska A Ca D C ED C $923
Arizona A B A f A ED C $347
Arkansas A A A C I C $204
California B Bff Ag Bm OD C $723
Colorado A B b D C ED C $356
Connecticut A A D A ED C $636w, bb
DC A A A A Ep C $379
Delaware A A A A OD C $338
Florida A B c D C ED C $303
Georgia A A A C ED C $280
Hawaii A A A C OD C $712
Idaho A A D C Iq Bq $309x
Illinois A A A C OD C $396w
Indiana A A A A ED C $288
Iowa A A A C EDbb C $426
Kansas C A C C I C $429aa
Kentucky A A D C ED C $262
Louisiana A A A C I C $240
Maine A B D A OD C $535y
Maryland A A D C ODr C $490
Massachusetts A B B C ED C $637z
Michigan A A D h C I C $480
Minnesota C A A C I C $532
Mississippi A A Di A ED A $170
Missouri A A D A ED C $292
Montana A A D C I C $442
Nebraska A B D B I C $364
Nevada A A A A ODr C $348
New Hampshire A C d Cj B I C $618z
New Jersey A A A C Os C $424
New Mexico A A D C I C $389
New York A C C C OD C $691w
North Carolina A A D C I C $272
North Dakota C A D A ED A, B $477
Ohio A A A Cn ED C $410
Oklahoma B A D Acc EDt A,B $292
Oregon A A D B I C $514
Pennsylvania A A D A OD C $421aa
Rhode Island A Bdd D C I C $554z
South Carolina A A D C I C $240
South Dakota C Ck C k C Iee C $508
Tennessee A A D C ED A $185
Texas A A A C ED A $236
Utah A A A C I C $474
Vermont A C A C I C $709w
Virginia A A D C EDu C $389w
Washington A B A Bo I C $546
West Virginia C A D C I C $340
Wisconsin A A Al C Iv C $673x
Wyoming A B D A ED B $340
Notes: 1  For a comparison of the 2006 rules and policies to those in 1993, see Tables 2-6. 2  A=No policy; B=Specific policy re: cohabitor; C=General policy re: shared living 3  A=Disregard; B=Disregard unless covers entire cost; C=Affects standard of need 4  A=Disregard; B=Disregard unless covers entire cost; C=Affects standard of need; D=Count as unearned income 5  A=Can look at woman and her child as a separate unit regardless of marital status; B=Can only look at woman and her child as a separate unit if unmarried; C=Always include male. Note that DC excludes married adults from the unit if the husband's income disqualifies the unit. 6  I=Include; O=Optional Inclusion but if excluded income disregarded; OD=Optional Inclusion but if excluded, income deemed; E=Exclude but income disregarded; ED= Exclude but income deemed 7  A=Benefit to newly married couples; B=Benefit all married couples; C=No benefit a  Grant is prorated when recipient pays only part of shelter costs down to a minimum amount. b  If recipient has no legal obligation (i.e., lives in someone elses home) and pays nothing, grant is reduced.  Otherwise, grant unaffected.  c  Grant is reduced only if vendor payments reduce recipients shelter costs to less than $50. d  Grant is reduced only if vendor payments reduce recipients shelter costs to less than $318. f  But if recipient owns the home, payments count as earned income. g  Disregarded only if payments are from a cohabitor. h  Payments count as room rent and are considered earned income. i  Cash payments are not reportable until recertification process unless they cause the recipients income to exceed 185% of the state needs standard.  At recertification, all cash payments are reportable. j  If cash payments reduce rent to less than $318, grant is reduced. Cash payments for utilities reduce utility allowance by ½. k  Such payments result in a shared living arrangement which reduces the grant. l  All cash payments disregarded unless they change a recipients eligibility status. m  If male is excluded from the unit he is not considered a cohabitor but an excluded individual and state tries not to penalize for unmarried status. n  Mother and her child can be looked at separately if either of them is receiving SSI. o  If male is living with recipient at time of assistance application, he is always included.  But if he moves into the home after the recipient is already receiving assistance and can provide for his child, mother and her child can be considered separately. p  The mother is also not eligible for assistance but her income (not including her spouses income) is deemed towards the children. q  Only 50% of a step-fathers income counts towards eligibility. r  Can only be included if he has children of his own living in the home. s  The step-father can be excluded if his resources result in ineligibility for the family.  Under these circumstances, the mother is not eligible for assistance and the grant amount is based solely on the childrens income. t  ½ of a step-fathers income is excluded from the deeming calculation. u  The mother can be excluded from the unit as well if deemed amount is more than standard of assistance for recipient and her child. x  TANF grant is a flat amount and does not change based on number of individuals in the assistance unit. v  Unit is still considered a 1 parent household. w  The grant amount varies within the state.  The amounts listed are for the largest city and the highest amount available. y  The grant amount includes a special housing allowance given when the housing costs exceed 75% of countable income. z  The grant amount includes a rent allowance amount for recipients who do not live in subsidized housing. aa  The grant amount varies within the state.  The amount listed is the highest amount available but not for the largest city. bb  Step-fathers income counts towards eligibility as if he were included in the unit. cc  If the father is excluded, he is treated like a step-father regardless of the couples marital status. dd  Effect on grant only occurs if male lives in recipients home.  If recipient lives in males home, shelter costs have no effect on grant. ee  An Indian step-parent has the option of being included in the unit.  When a step-father is excluded but pays any amount towards shelter costs, it is treated as a shared living arrangement. ff  Only applies to male cohabitor.  All other in-kind transfers disregarded.
TABLE 2 AFDC/TANF POLICIES AFFECTING UNRELATED COHABITORS, 1993 and 2006
State 1993 2006[8]
Alabama A A
Alaska A A
Arizona A A
Arkansas A A
California B B
Colorado A A
Connecticut A A
Delaware A A
DC A A
Florida A A
Georgia A A
Hawaii A A
Idaho A A
Illinois A A
Indiana A A
Iowa A A
Kansas C C
Kentucky A A
Louisiana A A
Maine A A
Maryland A A
Massachusetts A A
Michigan A A
Minnesota A C
Mississippi A A
Missouri A A
Montana A A
Nebraska A A
Nevada A A
New Hampshire A A
New Jersey A A
New Mexico A A
New York A A
North Carolina A A
North Dakota A C
Ohio A A
Oklahoma A B
Oregon C A
Pennsylvania A A
Rhode Island A A
South Carolina A A
South Dakota C C
Tennessee A A
Texas A A
Utah A A
Vermont A A
Virginia B A
Washington A A
West Virginia A C
Wisconsin A A
Wyoming A A
Notes: A = No Policy; B=Explicit policy directed at cohabitors; C = General policy regarding shared living arrangementsSource: 1993 and 2006 Telephone Surveys.
TABLE 3 AFDC/TANF TREATMENT OF STEP-FATHERS REGARDING ELIGIBILITY, 1993 and 2006E = Exclude from assistance unit; I = Include; O = Optional
State 1993 2006[9]
Alabama E I
Alaska E E
Arizona E E
Arkansas E I
California E O
Colorado E E
Connecticut O E
Delaware E O
DC E E
Florida E E
Georgia E E
Hawaii E O
Idaho E I
Illinois E O
Indiana E E
Iowa E E
Kansas E I
Kentucky E E
Louisiana E I
Maine E O
Maryland E O
Massachusetts E E
Michigan E I
Minnesota E I
Mississippi E E
Missouri E E
Montana E I
Nebraska I I
Nevada E O
New Hampshire I I
New Jersey O O
New Mexico E I
New York E O
North Carolina E I
North Dakota E E
Ohio E E
Oklahoma E E
Oregon I I
Pennsylvania E O
Rhode Island O I
South Carolina E I
South Dakota I I
Tennessee E E
Texas E E
Utah I I
Vermont I I
Virginia E E
Washington I I
West Virginia E I
Wisconsin E I
Wyoming E E
Source: 1993 and 2006 Telephone Surveys.                        
TABLE 4AFDC/TANF TREATMENT OF IN-KIND CONTRIBUTIONS AND VENDOR PAYMENTS FOR SHELTER (Rent and Utilities), 1993 and 2006A=Disregarded; B=Disregarded unless covers entire cost; C=Affects standard of need
State 1993 2006[10]
Alabama A A
Alaska A C
Arizona B B
Arkansas A A
California a A B
Colorado B B
Connecticut A A
DC A A
Delaware A A
Florida B B
Georgia A A
Hawaii A A
Idaho A A
Illinois A A
Indiana A A
Iowa B A
Kansas A A
Kentucky A A
Louisiana A A
Maine b B B
Maryland A A
Massachusetts B B
Michigan A A
Minnesota A A
Mississippi A A
Missouri A A
Montana B A
Nebraska B B
Nevada A A
New Hampshire C C
New Jersey A A
New Mexico B A
New York C C
North Carolina A A
North Dakota A A
Ohio A A
Oklahoma B A
Oregon A A
Pennsylvania A A
Rhode Island c B B
South Carolina A A
South Dakota c B C
Tennessee A A
Texas A A
Utah A A
Vermont C C
Virginia A A
Washington B B
West Virginia A A
Wisconsin A A
Wyoming B B
Notes: a  Only applies to cohabitors. b  Vendor payments covering entire costs reduce standard of need which may affect the grant. c  If individual lives in recipients home and vendor payments cover entire costs, considered in-kind income of $105.20. d  In 1993, the grant reduction for full payment of shelter costs only applied if recipient lived in male's home. In 2006, the living arrangement did not matter so that the grant is reduced if any individual living in the home pays at least $1 in shelter costs.Source: 1993 and 2006 Telephone Surveys.
TABLE 5 AFDC/TANF TREATMENT OF CASH PAYMENTS FOR SHARED HOUSEHOLD EXPENSES, 1993 and 2006A=Disregarded; B=Disregarded unless covers entire cost; C=Affects standard of need; D=Counts as unearned income
State 1993 2006
Alabama D A
Alaska A D
Arizona D A
Arkansas a A A
California A A
Colorado D D
Connecticut D D
DC A A
Delaware D A
Florida A D
Georgia A A
Hawaii A A
Idaho D D
Illinois A A
Indiana A A
Iowa D A
Kansas D C
Kentucky D D
Louisiana D A
Maine D D
Maryland A D
Massachusetts A B
Michigan D D
Minnesota A A
Mississippi D D
Missouri D D
Montana D D
Nebraska A D
Nevada A A
New Hampshire b C C
New Jersey D A
New Mexico D D
New York c C C
North Carolina A D
North Dakota D D
Ohio A A
Oklahoma A D
Oregon A D
Pennsylvania A D
Rhode Island D D
South Carolina A D
South Dakota A C
Tennessee D D
Texas A A
Utah A A
Vermont C d A
Virginia D D
Washington A A
West Virginia A D
Wisconsin e A A
Wyoming D D
Notes:a  As of 1997, cash payments from someone other than the father of the children are disregarded. b  If cash payments reduce rent to less than $318, grant is reduced.  Cash payments for utilities reduce utility allowance by 1/2. c  Cash payments reduce a recipient's standard of need. d  In 1993, cash payments for rent reduced the recipient's standard of need. e  As of 2006, all cash payments are disregarded unless they change a recipient's eligibility status, which is 115% of the poverty level.Source: 1993 and 2006 Telephone Surveys.
TABLE 6 AFDC/TANF MAXIMUM GRANT, 1993 and 2006
State 1993 2006
Alabama $164 $215
Alaska $950 $923
Arizona $347 $347
Arkansas $204 $204
California $607 $723
Colorado $356 $356
Connecticut a,b $681 $636
DC $409 $379
Delaware $338 $338
Florida $303 $303
Georgia $280 $280
Hawaii $712 $712
Idaho $317 $309
Illinois b $367 $396
Indiana $288 $288
Iowa $426 $426
Kansas b $429 $429
Kentucky $228 $262
Louisiana c $190 $240
Maine d $493 $535
Maryland $366 $490
Massachusetts $579 $637
Michigan c $459 $489
Minnesota $532 $532
Mississippi $120 $170
Missouri $292 $292
Montana $401 $442
Nebraska $364 $364
Nevada $348 $348
New Hampshire $516 $618
New Jersey c $424 $424
New Mexico $357 $389
New York b $577 $691
North Carolina $272 $272
North Dakota $409 $477
Ohio $341 $410
Oklahoma $343 $292
Oregon $460 $514
Pennsylvania e $403 $403
Rhode Island $554 $554
South Carolina $200 $240
South Dakota $417 $508
Tennessee $185 $185
Texas $184 $236
Utah $415 $474
Vermont b $659 $665
Virginia b $291 $389
Washington $546 $546
West Virginia $249 $340
Wisconsin c $517 $673
Wyoming $360 $340
     
Mean $397 $426
Median $366 $396
Notes: a  Amount in 1993 includes a $50 special needs allowance, which was not available in 2006. b  The grant amount varies within the state.  The amounts listed are for the largest city and the highest amount available. c  In 1993, the grant amount varied within the state; the amount listed was for the largest city.  In 2006, the grant amount was the same throughout the state. d  The grant amounts includes a $75 (1993) and $50 (2006) special housing allowance given when housing exceeds 75% of countable income. e  The grant amount varies within the state.  The amounts listed are for the largest city but is not the highest amount available.Source: Figures are from 1993 and 2006 Telephone Surveys.
TABLE 7 COHABITION RATES BY CHANGE IN GENEROSITY OF POLICY TOWARD UNRELATED COHABITORS (PERCENT), 1990 2000
  Living in States with Less Generous Policy Living in States with No Change in Policy
1990 2000 Change 1990 2000 Change DID[11]
Policy Toward In-Kind Contributions - Direct Measure 2.3 4.3 2.0 2.3 3.9 1.6 0.4
POSSLQ 2.0 3.3 1.3 2.0 2.9 0.9 2.4
Adjusted POSSLQ 3.0 5.1 2.1 3.4 4.9 1.5 3.6
Minpot definition 2.6 4.3 1.7 2.8 4.0 1.2 2.1
Maxpot definition 2.9 4.9 2.0 3.1 4.6 1.5 3.4
Policy Toward Cash Contributions - Direct Measure 2.5 4.2 1.7 2.2 3.9 1.7 0
POSSLQ 2.1 3.2 1.1 1.9 2.9 1.0 0.1
Adjusted POSSLQ 3.6 5.2 1.6 3.3 4.8 1.5 0.1
Minpot definition 3.0 4.4 1.4 2.6 3.9 1.3 0.1
Maxpot definition 3.4 5.0 1.6 3.0 4.5 1.5 0.1
Specific State Policy Toward Cohabitors - Direct Measure 2.2 3.9 1.7 2.3 4.0 1.7 0
POSSLQ 2.1 3.2 1.1 2.0 3.0 1.0 0.1
Adjusted POSSLQ 3.4 5.0 1.6 3.4 4.9 1.5 0.1
Minpot definition 2.8 4.2 1.4 2.7 4.1 1.4 0
Maxpot definition 3.2 4.9 1.7 3.1 4.7 1.6 0.1
Source: Calculations from IPUMS 5-percent sample.Notes: Universe is all women age 15 and over who were householders or spouses of householders, with never-married children under 18 in the household, and with less than a high school education.Cohabitation measures:
  • Direct measure: responses to direct question concerning relationship of each member of the household to the householder.
  • POSSLQ:  Cohabitation defined to occur when the householder is 15 or over; the household includes one other person aged 15+ who is unrelated to the householder and of the opposite sex as the householder; and the household includes no other person 15+ than the person so identified in the second criterion (Casper and Cohen, 2000).
  • Adjusted POSSLQ:  Cohabitation defined to occur when the householder or over; the household includes one other person aged 15+ who is unrelated to the householder, not a foster child of the householder, and of the opposite sex as the householder; and the household includes no other person 15+ than the person identified in the second criterion except for relatives of the householder and persons listed as child in an unrelated subfamily (Casper and Cohen, 2000).
  • Minpot and Maxpot:  Measures based on the minimum number of potential partners and maximum number of potential partners taken directly from information on the household roster (Fitch et al., 2005)

[ Go to Contents ]

APPENDIX A

TABLE 1 STATE TANF POLICIES REGARDING COHABITATION AND MARRIAGE 2002 2004 MANUAL REVIEW
  Number of States Applicable States
States that have an explicit statement about the treatment of shared living arrangements (and may specifically mention presence of cohabitor) 25 See Table 2 for details
States that disregard in-kind contributions (if at all) 37 See Table 2 for details
States that disregard regular cash contributions (if at all) 20 See Table 2 for details
States that automatically reduce the grant in the case of a shared living arrangement. 4 SD, KS, WV, WY
 
States With Unusual Policies Regarding Cohabitation 2  
State requires cohabitor to make a financial contribution equal cost of independent living arrangement 1 CA
State treats income of unrelated opposite-sex cohabitor same as step-parent's income. 1 OK
 
States That Have Explicit Pro-Marriage Policy 5  
State disregards new spouse's income for 6 months 2 MS, ND
State disregards new step-parent's income if his income is below certain amount 1 TN
State provides marriage bonus. 1 WV
State provides higher earned income deduction to married couples. 1 WY
Notes: Based on Review of State TANF Manuals for 2002-2004.

APPENDIX A

TABLE 2 SUMMARY OF STATE-BY-STATE FINDINGS 2002-2004 MANUAL REVIEW
State Manual includes Explicit Statement about Shared Living Arrangements State Disregards in-kind Contribution* State Disregards Regular Cash Contribution* State Automatically Reduces Grant if Shared Living Arrangement
Alabama   X    
Alaska X X    
Arizona X   X  
Arkansas   X X  
California X X X  
Colorado        
Conn.   X    
Delaware   not mentioned X  
DC X X X  
Florida   X    
Georgia   not mentioned    
Hawaii X X X  
Idaho   not mentioned    
Illinois X X X  
Indiana X X X  
Iowa X X X  
Kansas X X X X
Kentucky   X    
Louisiana   X    
Maine   X    
Maryland   X    
Massachusetts   X X  
Michigan   X    
Minnesota X X X  
Mississippi   X    
Missouri   X    
Montana X X    
Nebraska X X    
Nevada X   X  
New Hampshire   X    
New Jersey   X    
New Mexico X not mentioned    
New York X not mentioned    
North Carolina X X X  
North Dakota   not mentioned    
Ohio X not mentioned X  
Oklahoma   X    
Oregon   X    
Pennsylvania   X    
Rhode Island X X    
South Carolina X X X  
South Dakota X not mentioned   X
Tennessee   X    
Texas X X X  
Utah X X X  
Vermont X not mentioned X  
Virginia X X    
Washington   X    
West Virginia X X X X
Wisconsin n/a n/a n/a n/a
Wyoming       X
Total Count 25 37 20 4
Notes: Based on Review of State TANF Manuals for 2002-2004. * A state is counted as yes if there is some circumstance in which such contributions are disregarded.

APPENDIX A

TABLE 3 STATE-BY-STATE SUMMARY OF WORK-RELATED RULES FOR TANF FAMILIES 2002-2004 MANUAL REVIEW
State Work history requirement eligibility?1,2 Hours worked rule for eligibility?1, 3 Hours required for adult in single-parent family8,9 Hours required for adults in two parent-families8
Alabama NO NO 32-35 35, 55 (if receive federally funded child care), can divide among parents
Alaska NO NO 30 35, 55 if receive federally funded child care), can divide among parents
Arizona YES, 6 out of 13 quarters NO 35 40 for one parent; 25 for other
Arkansas NO NO 30  35, 55 (if receive federally funded child care), can divide among parents
California NO Employed <100 hrs. 30 35, 55 (if receive federally funded child care), can divide among parents but one must work at least 20 hrs
Colorado NO NO 20, if child < 6 35, 55 (if receive federally funded child care)
Conn. NO NO 25 35, parents cannot divide hours
Delaware NO NO 30 35, 55 (if receive federally funded child care)
DC YES, 6 out of 13 quarters Employed <100 hrs. 30 35, 55 (if receive federally funded child care)
Florida NO NO 30 35, 55 (if receive federally funded child care), can divide among parents
Georgia YES, Various5 NO 30 35, 55 (if receive federally funded child care), division of hours depends on local rules
Hawaii NO NO varies varies
Idaho NO NO 30 25-40
Illinois NO NO 30 35, hours can be divided
Indiana YES, 6 out of 13 quarters Employed <100 hrs. Case-by-case Case-by-case
Iowa NO No limit 20 20 for each parent
Kansas NO No limit 30  35, 55 (if receive federally funded child care), can divide among parents
Kentucky YES6 Employed <100 hrs. 30 35, 55 (if receive federally funded child care), can divide among parents
Louisiana NO No limit 30 35, 55 (if receive federally funded child care), can divide among parents
Maine YES, 6 out of 13 quarters Employed <100 hrs. 30 40, 55 (if receive federally funded child care), can divide among parents
Maryland NO No limit Locally-determined Locally-determined
Massachusetts NO No limit 20 20 for each parent
Michigan NO No limit 40 40 each
Minnesota NO No limit 30 55, can divide among parents but one must work at least 35.
Mississippi YES, 6 out of 13 quarters Employed <100 hrs. 30 55, can divide among parents
Missouri NO No limit 30 35, 55 (if federally funded child care); can divide among parents but one must work 35 hours.
Montana NO No limit 30 35
Nebraska NO No limit 30  35, 55 (if receive federally funded child care)
Nevada NO No limit Case-by-case 55 (if receive federally funded child care), can  divide among parents
New Hampshire YES, 6 out of 13 quarters Employed<100 hrs. 30 35, 55 (if receive federally funded child care), can  divide among parents
New Jersey NO No limit 30 35 each
New Mexico NO No limit 34 40 (each work 20) OR

59 (if receive federally funded child care), one parent must work at least 30

New York NO No limit Locally-determined Locally-determined
North Carolina NO No limit 30 35, 55 (if receive federally funded child care), can divide among parents
North Dakota4 -- -- 30 No policy
Ohio NO No limit 30 35, 55 (if receive federally funded child care), can divide among parents
Oklahoma 6 out of 13 quarters No limit 30 65; one parent must work 35 and the other at least 30
Oregon NO No limit 30 one parent must work 35; the other 30
Pennsylvania 6 out of 13 quarters No limit Case-by-case Case-by-case
Rhode Island NO No limit 30 35, 55 (if receive federally funded child care), can divide among parents, but one must work 35 hrs
South Carolina NO No limit 30 35, 55 (if receive federally funded child care)
South Dakota YES, various7 <100 30 35, 55 (if receive federally funded child care), can divide among parents
Tennessee 6 out of 13 quarters <100 30 80, each parent must work 40 hrs
Texas NO No limit 30 35, 55 (if receive federally funded child care), can divide among parents
Utah NO No limit Case-by-case 40 for one parent and 20 for other
Vermont NO No limit 30 (20 if child<6) 30-40
Virginia NO No limit 30 35, 55 (if receive federally funded child care), can divide among parents
Washington NO No limit Case-by-case Case-by-Case
West Virginia NO No limit 30 35, 55 (if receive federally funded child care), can divide among parents
Wisconsin NO No limit   40, 55 (if receive federally funded child care) and one parent must work 40 hrs.
Wyoming NO No limit 30 35 for each parent
Notes:1 All information in columns 1 and 2 is from Gretchen Row with Jeffrey Versteeg, Welfare Rules Databook: State TANF Policies as of July 2003 (Washington, DC: Urban Institute, April 2005), Table I.B.2.2 The applicant had to work 6 out of 13 quarters within one year of applying for TANF.3 Hours worked had to be below 100 hours in the month prior to applying for TANF.4 North Dakota does not have a two-parent program.5 Applicant must be connected to the workforce, such as currently working less than 20 hours per week or working < 20 hours per week but earned $500 in the last 6 months prior to applying for TANF. See Welfare Rules Databook, Table I.B.2.6 Must have earned at least $1,000 during 2 year period prior to applying for TANF.7 Parent must have a combined gross in come of $1,500 in past six months and must not have voluntarily left a job, reduced hours, or refused a job offer.8 All information in columns 3 and 4 is from Review of TANF Manuals for 2002-2004.9 Generally, states reduce required hours to 20 if child < 6.

[ Go to Contents ]

APPENDIX B

TELEPHONE SURVEY PROTOCOL

TELEPHONE SURVEY OF STATE TANF DEPARTMENTS REGARDING COHABITATION AND MARRIAGE-RELATED RULES IN TANF

Robert A. Moffitt, Johns Hopkins University Jane McClure Burstain, Pardee RAND Graduate School Robert Reville, RAND Anne E. Winkler, University of Missouri-St. Louis

This version: April 24, 2006

[Note: Brackets refer to instructions to Jane; parentheses are material that is to be included in the question.]

II. Demonstrations and Area Differentials

1.) [Demonstrations:]

a)         Are there welfare demonstration projects or pilot programs currently going on in your state?  Please describe.  Do any specifically experiment with rules regarding marriage or cohabitation? Are they state-wide or only being conducted on a limited basis?           

            No. Used to have health marriage initiative grants that followed federal impetus to form 2 parent families.  FY05 11 grantees, FY06 14 grantees but FY07 3 grantees b/c of reduced funding.

            State-wide

b) If the demonstration is for only a small/local area, then please answer the following questions for non-demonstration areas.

If the demonstration is state-wide, then please answer the following questions according to the rules of the demon project.

            Answers based on rules:

                        1)         prevailing in areas without demonstration project                         2)         prevailing under state-wide demonstration project                         3)         other -- explain

2) [Area Differentials]

Do the rules determining the size of the TANF grant and/or the rules determining eligibility depend upon the area of the state in which the applicant resides?

No.  Only will speak to state programs, ignoring tribal assistance programs.

[If yes then reply]

Please answer the following questions on the basis of the rules prevailing in the largest city in the state.

IV. TANF Questions

General

3.         What is the maximum TANF payment for a mother living alone with 2 young children & has no income?

4.         Modified: Suppose the mother and her 2 children live with/cohabit with a male [boyfriend] who is unrelated to the mother and her children.  I assume that the woman and her children qualify for TANF as a single-parent unit [not a two-parent family]?

TANF: Shelter and In-Kind Questions

First, I would like to ask you some questions about how the in-kind transfer of shelter is treated in your state.

5.         Suppose that an unrelated male (with income of $10,000) moves into the apartment of a woman and her two children. (He is a cohabitor/unmarried-partner.)

a)         If the unrelated male pays the full shelter cost (rent, utilities), how is the (maximum) TANF payment affected?

b)         What if, instead, she were to pay a non-trivial amount ($100) toward shelter.  How is the (maximum) TANF payment affected?

c)         What if she were to pay all the rent, etc. and the male obtained "free shelter." 

            Is her grant affected?             Is her eligibility affected?             Other?

            Along these lines, suppose the male partner who moves in with her has no income (therefore, shares ALL her resources -- cash, in-kind transfers, shelter),

            How does your state deal with this?              Is her grant affected?               eligibility affected?               Other?

In the questions I just asked, the male moved into the woman's apartment.  Now, let's change the story --

6.         Suppose the woman and her children move into the male's apartment (once again, he earns $10,000).

            Would any of your answers above have changed?   

                        NO -- who lives with who doesn't matter

                        YES -->

                                    if he pays all the shelter costs, how would the  (maximum) TANF payment change?

                                   What if, instead, she were to pay a non-trivial amount ($100) toward shelter.  How is the (maximum) TANF payment affected?

7.         How does your state treat other in-kind transfers like food and/or clothing that are given by an unrelated male cohabitor to a woman and her children?

7.5  Does your state make any attempt to verify information provided by the TANF recipient regarding in-kind transfers, such as shelter, etc.?

Now let's change the story a bit again --

8.         Suppose the woman and her children moved into her parents' apartment.  The woman is not a minor.

                        a)         If her parents pay all of the shelter costs, how would this affect the TANF (maximum) payment?

                      What if, instead, the woman were to pay a non-trivial amount ($100) toward shelter. How is her TANF payment affected?                       

                    b)            How does your state treat other in-kind transfers like food and/or clothing that are given by the parents to a woman and her children?

                  b2)           Would any of your answers have been different if the parents moved into her apartment?

TANF: Cash Questions

Let's continue with the scenario of a single mother with two children who cohabits with an unrelated male (where she lives in his apartment). We are interested in your state's treatment of cash contributions for the woman from the man.

9.a)      First, consider the case where the male cohabitor makes a regular contribution of $100 towards the needs of the woman and her children (this differs from shared household expensesthat will be asked later).  Is this contribution treated differently than other kinds of unearned income, for example cash income from a relative or her mother?    

            [If no then skip to 10]             [If yes, then ask] 

9.b)        How is it treated?

10.a)    Does it matter if the contribution is paid regularly or occasionally? [If no then skip to 11] [If yes then, ask]

10.b)    How is an occasional or infrequent contribution treated in your state?

11.       If the amount of the cash contribution is small, for instance less than $30 per quarter, would it be treated as gift or inconsequential income in your state?

12.       Does the treatment of cash contributions, either regular or infrequent depend upon whether the woman lives in the male's apartment or he lives in her apartment? [assume "no"]

12.25 Instead, suppose the woman receives a cash contribution for shared household expenses from the male.

a)         How is this contribution treated? b)         Does it matter if the contribution is paid regularly or occasionally? c)         How is an occasional or infrequent contribution for this purpose treated in your state?

TANF: Questions on Financial Responsibility

Still, thinking about the mother and her two children who live with the unrelated male---

12.5.      Does your state take into account the male cohabitors income in determining the TANF grant? (e.g. many states deem [take into-account] step-parent income in determining the TANF grant. Is this done for an unrelated male cohabitor in your state?)             [assume no]             If yes, explain. 

13.       According to the rules in your state, is the unrelated male/cohabitor (potentially) required to make a financial contribution to support the woman and her children?

           NEVER    [IF ANSWER IS "NEVER", GO TO Q.16]            DEPENDS --                         a)         Explain the specific conditions                                     (For instance, depends on if he makes a cash contribution...)                         b)         How is his financial contribution determined?

IF YES THEN ASK:

14.       Does the male cohabitor's financial responsibility depend on whether he lives in the TANF woman's apartment or if she lives in his?

15.       Would the male be financially responsible for the woman and her children if he were only a housemate/roommate but NOT a cohabitor/unmarried-partner?             [assume no]

16.       Is their any circumstance under which the unmarried male cohabitor (who is not the father of the children) would be included in the assistance unit?              

16.5.   Are there any policies that apply to an unmarried male cohabitor that do not equally apply to other individuals living in the household (who are also not part of the assistance unit)?  [roommate, sister, parent] 

Questions on two-parent families. (unmarried v. married)

Next, I'd like to ask some questions about how families (unmarried and married) are treated when the male is the natural parent of the children.  [Neither parent is disabled; Ill ask about step-parent families later.]

17. a.    Are married two-parent families (where neither parent is disabled) eligible for TANF?

b.    What about unmarried two-parent families (where neither parent is disabled and the father is the natural parent of the children)?

            If YES - >   is there any circumstance in which the natural father would not be included in the TANF unit?  Please explain.

18.       a)         Are there any rules in your state that treat married couples differently, depending on how long they have been married? 

            If yes --> probe further below.

a)                  Are the rules on hours, work history and the waiting period the same [whether married or unmarried]?  What about for newly-married couples?

                 NO --- rules for married couples (newly-married and all married) are same as for unmarried

                  YES--> explain [Obtain definition for newly as relevant]

b)                  Are the asset tests the same?  [again, ask for 3 groups: newly married, longer-married, unmarried. Obtain definition of newly, as relevant]

c)                  Are the income eligibility tests the same? [again, ask for 3 groups: newly married, longer-married, unmarried. Obtain definition of newly, as relevant]

d)                  Are the payment formulas the same?  [again, ask for 3 groups: newly married, longer-married, unmarried. Obtain definition of newly, as relevant]

e)                  Is there any difference in the treatment of these types of families (not previously mentioned]? [This question is a final check: any policies that favor marriage/provide a bonus?]

19.  Deleted. 

Questions about step-parent families.

20.       Consider a woman and her two children who live with the woman's husband (who is NOT the natural father of the children.)

a)            In your state, is their any circumstance under which all four people, including the step-father, would receive TANF?

b)      Are there any rules that treat (step-parent) families differently based on how long theyve been married?

            If no proceed             If yes probe further  

Questions about blended families

20.5     Consider a married couple with two children, where the wife is the natural parent of a child (and the male is step-parent to this child) and the couple has a child in common.  [mine, ours situation if step parent included in unit]

           a)         Is this situation treated as one assistance unit (with two parents and two children) or two separate assistance units?

            b)         How is the husbands income treated?

            c)         Would your answers above have differed if the couple was unmarried?

VII. End

I greatly appreciate your taking the time to answer these questions.

If they have not previously provided documents:  Are there any documents regarding your states policies and procedures surrounding the issues we discussed?  We would greatly appreciate any written materials pertaining to these matters (e.g., pages from your TANF manual),

[Mailing address [if interested]: Jane McClure RAND 1776 Main Street PO Box 2138 Santa Monica, California  90407] [e-mail:  mcclure@RAND.org]

[If they say they would like copies of the results, get mailing address: _________________________________________________________]

Thank you again for taking the time to talk with me.... I really appreciate your help.....etc.

[ Go to Contents ]

APPENDIX C

RECONCILIATION OF MANUAL REVIEW AND TELEPHONE SURVEY FINDINGS

During the timeframe of 2002 to 2004, a systematic review of caseworker TANF manuals for the 50 states and D.C. was conducted, using information available both on line and at the Urban Institute, to identify rules regarding cohabitation, marriage, and shared living arrangements (Manual Review).  In 2006, prior to the 2006 survey, the Welfare Rules Database (WRD) at the Urban Institute was reviewed regarding policies about the inclusion in the assistance unit of natural parents, dependent children and step-parents.  As an additional check on the validity of the 2006 survey responses, we compared them with these other sources, to the extent possible.  For the most part, the 2006 survey responses were in accord with the other sources.  To the extent there were any explicit differences, they are discussed below. 

1.                  Shared Living Arrangements

For questions 5 and 6 in the 2006 survey relating to the effect of a shared living arrangement when the recipient lived with an unrelated male cohabitor, we noted only one conflict. In Minnesota, the 2006 survey response indicated that a recipients grant was reduced if she lived with an unrelated adult.  The Manual Review identified no such policy.  We looked at the online TANF manual for additional guidance and found that it was in accord with the 2006 survey response (http://www.dhs.state.mn.us/main/idcplg?IdcService=GET_FILE&RevisionSelec...). Additionally, the interviewee actually reviewed the 2006 survey responses and made some minor changes but did not change the shared living response.  As a result, we feel the 2006 survey response is accurate. 

2.                  Vendor Payments

Questions 5 and 7 in the 2006 survey related to whether a recipients grant was affected when an unrelated cohabitor made vendor payments on behalf of the recipient (i.e., paid the landlord or utility company or purchased food or clothing).

For Colorado, the 2006 survey response indicated that a recipients grant is reduced if  she has no legal obligation for shelter costs and does not actually make any payments toward such costs (i.e., she lives with a cohabitor in his apartment and pays nothing toward shelter costs).  But the Manual Review indicated that shelter costs did not affect the grant.  We were not able to access any online TANF manual.  We followed up with the interviewee on this specific issue and she confirmed the accuracy of the 2006 survey response.

For Hawaii, the 2006 survey response indicated that a recipients grant was not affected by a cohabitors payment of rent on the recipients behalf but the Manual Review seemed to indicate the opposite, finding that actual shelter costs affected the grant.  The states online TANF manual indicates that a cohabitors payment does not count as income and the expense cannot be included in the recipients standard of assistance (Section 17-676-9 http://www.hawaii.gov/dhs/main/har/har_current/AdminRules/document_view). We followed up with the interviewee who indicated that the state has a flat grant amount that is solely based on how many individuals are in the assistance unit.  Shelter costs do not factor into this calculation so she confirmed the accuracy of the 2006 survey response. 

For Vermont, the 2006 survey response indicated that a recipients grant is based on actual shelter costs so that a recipients grant is reduced if a cohabitor pays her rent.  But the Manual Review seemed to indicate the opposite as it found that shelter costs did not affect the grant.  We were not able to access any online TANF manual so we called interviewee and she confirmed the accuracy of the 2006 Survey response.

For Virginia, the 2006 survey response indicated that the grant was not affected by a cohabitors payment of rent on the recipients behalf, so that vendor payments are disregarded.  But the Manual Review found that vendor payments were not disregarded.  In the initial interview, however, the interviewee indicated that the policy to disregard vendor payments had been adopted effective in April 2003, so it appears that the Manual Review simply did not reflect the change.  As a result, we feel the 2006 Survey response is accurate.

3.                  Effect of Subsidized Housing

Although there was no explicit question in the 2006 survey regarding the impact of subsidized housing, many interviewees discussed this issue in response to question 3 regarding the maximum TANF payment allowed or in response to question 5 regarding vendor shelter payments.  On this topic, we noted only one conflict. For Connecticut, the 2006 survey response indicated that a recipients grant was reduced if she lived in subsidized housing but the Manual Review found that shelter costs did not affect the grant.  We were not able to access any online TANF manual but we did look at the 2005 version of the WRD on this issue and found it in accord with the 2006 survey response.  Additionally, the interviewee actually reviewed the survey responses and made some minor changes but did not change the shelter cost response.  As a result, we feel that the 2006 survey response is accurate.

4.                  Inclusion of Step-fathers

Question 20(a) in the 2006 survey related to whether a step-father was included in the assistance unit. On this topic, we noted several discrepancies. For Iowa, the 2006 survey response indicated that he was included but the WRD indicated that he was excluded.  The states online TANF manual was in accord with the WRD.  As a result, we followed up with the interviewee and asked about the discrepancy and she confirmed that the WRD was correct.  We amended the 2006 survey response accordingly.

For Nevada, the 2006 survey response indicated that he was excluded but the WRD indicated his inclusion was optional.  The states online TANF manual was in accord with the WRD.  As a result, we followed up with the interviewee and asked about the discrepancy.  She indicated that a step-father is generally excluded but can be included if he has children of his own in the home, even if they are not related to the recipients children.  We amended the 2006 survey response accordingly.

For South Dakota, the 2006 survey response indicated that he was excluded but the WRD indicated he was included. The states online TANF manual was in accord with the WRD. As a result, we followed up with the interviewee and asked about the discrepancy and she confirmed that the WRD was correct.  A step-father is included in the unit except for an Indian step-father who can be excluded.  We amended the 2006 survey response accordingly.

5.                  Blended Families

Question 21 in the 2006 survey related to blended families where the male in the home was the father of some but not all of the children.  Generally, the male is always included in the assistance unit, although upon further inquiry, we discovered that in 18 states, if the entire family did not qualify, the state looked at the mother and her children separately to determine their eligibility.  The WRD indicates that a natural parent is always included in the unit and makes no note of this exception.  Although we attempted to look at the states online TANF manuals, they were difficult to understand on this particular point.  Given the relatively widespread use of this practice and the explicit answers on behalf of the interviewees, we feel the 2006 survey responses are accurate and that the WRD simply does not capture this nuance.

6.                  Cash Payments for Shared Household Expenses

Question 12.25 in the 2006 survey related to the treatment of cash payments from an unrelated cohabitor to a recipient for shared household expenses.

For Alabama, the 2006 survey response indicated that such payments are disregarded but the Manual Review indicated that they count as unearned income.  We were not able to access any online TANF manual so we called the interviewee for a follow up. She confirmed the accuracy of the 2006 survey response. 

For Georgia, the 2006 survey response indicated that such payments are disregarded but the Manual Review indicated that they count as unearned income.  The states online TANF manual was in accord with the 2006 Survey response (Section 1530.1 http://www.odis.dhr.state.ga.us/3000_fam/3390_tanf/CHAPTERS/1530%20-%20MT%205.doc). As a result, we feel the 2006 Survey response is accurate.

For Kansas, the 2006 survey response indicated that such payments count as unearned income but the Manual Review indicated that they are disregarded.  The states online TANF manual indicated that such payments are not counted as income but the cost it covers cannot be included as an expense (Section 6410-51 - http://www.srskansas.org/KEESM/keesm6400.htm#6410). We followed up with the interviewee regarding the discrepancy and she indicated that the TANF Manual was correct so we amended the 2006 survey response accordingly.

For Nevada, the 2006 survey response indicated that such payments count as unearned income but the Manual Review indicated that they are disregarded.  The states online TANF manual indicated that payments for an individuals share of such expenses are disregarded (Section 724.1 http://www.welfare.state.nv.us/elig_pay/epm_manual/a_0700.pdf )  As a result, we followed up with the interviewee and asked about the discrepancy.  She indicated that such payments are disregarded if it is verified that they are actually being used for the cohabitors portion of the household expenses.  We amended the 2006 survey response accordingly.

For South Carolina, the 2006 survey response indicated that such payments count as unearned income but the Manual Review indicated that they are disregarded.  We were not able to access any online TANF manual, so we followed up with the interviewee.  She indicated that the 2006 survey response was accurate.

For Utah, the 2006 survey response indicated that such payments count as unearned income but the Manual Review indicated that they are disregarded.  The states online TANF manual indicated that such payments are disregarded if they are for the cohabitors portion of the shared household expenses (Section 425.22 http://utahcares.utah.gov/infosourceeligibility/Eligibility_Manual.htm#200_Program_Eligibility_Requirements/205-2_Family_Employment_Program_Two_Parent_(FEP-TP)_-_General_Information.htm). We followed up with the interviewee who, after reviewing the TANF manual provision, agreed that such payments were disregarded.  We amended the 2006 Survey response accordingly.

For Washington, the 2006 survey response indicated that such payments are disregarded but the Manual Review indicated that they count as unearned income.  The states online TANF manual indicated that such payments are disregarded.  (Treatment of Income Chart - http://www1.dshs.wa.gov/esa/EAZManual/Sections/INCMtreatment.htm#Funds%2...).  Given the concordance between the 2006 Survey response and the online TANF manual, we feel the 2006 Survey response is accurate.

For West Virginia, the 2006 survey response indicated that such payments count as unearned income but the Manual Review indicated that they are disregarded.  The states online TANF manual seem to indicate that such payments are disregarded. (Section 58-73-180-184 (http://www.wvdhhr.org/bcf/policy/imm/new_manual/IMManual/Manual_PDF_Files/Chapter_10/ch10_3.pdf).  We followed up with the interviewee regarding the discrepancy.  She indicated that the TANF manual provision we looked at related solely to vendor payments and confirmed that if cash was paid to the recipient for shared household expenses, it still counted as unearned income. Therefore the 2006 Survey response was accurate.

7.                  Marriage

Question 18in the 2006 survey related to policies promoting marriage.

For Alabama, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Texas and Wyoming the 2006 survey response indicated a marriage benefit that was not noted in the Manual Review.  Given the interviewees explicit answers and identification of the policies, we feel the Manual Review may simply have missed the policy or, perhaps, it was not in effect at the time of the review.  As a result, we believe that the 2006 survey responses are accurate.

For West Virginia, the 2006 survey response indicated that the marriage benefit identified in the Manual Review had been discontinued.  Given the interviewees explicit answer and identification of the policy, we feel the 2006 Survey response is accurate.

[ Go to Contents ]

References

Administration of Families and Children, Healthy Marriage web site (htt://www.acf.hhs.gov/healthymarriage).

Casper, Lynne and Philip Cohen. 2000. How Does POSSLQ Measure Up? Historical Estimates of Cohabitation. Demography 37 (May): 237-245.

Center for Law and Social Policy, 2005. (Paula Roberts and Mark Greenberg), Marriage and the TANF Rules: A Discussion Paper (February). www.clasp.org

Fitch, Catherine, Ron Goeken and Steven Ruggles. 2005. The Rise of Cohabitation in the United States: New Historical Estimates. Working Paper No. 2005-03, Minnesota Population Center.

Horn, Wade F., Assistant Secretary for Children and Families in the Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, given at the conference, Marriage and Family Formation Among Low-Income Couples, sponsored by the National Poverty Center as excerpted in Poverty Research Insights (University of Michigan: National Poverty Center), winter 2004.

Lewin Group (Karen N., Michael E. Fishman, Plamen Nikolov, Asaph Glosser, and Stephanie Laud). 2002. State Policies To Promote Marriage, Submitted to US Department of Health and Human Services.  http://aspe.hhs.gov/hsp/marriage02f.

Lichter, Daniel T. 2001. Marriage as Public Policy, Progressive Policy Institute (September).

Moffitt, Robert; Robert Reville; and Anne Winkler.  1996. State AFDC Rules Regarding the Treatment of Cohabitors: 1993.  Social Security Bulletin 57 (Winter): 26-33.

Moffitt, Robert; Robert Reville; and Anne Winkler, 1998. Beyond Single Mothers: Cohabitation and Marriage in the AFDC Program. Demography 35 (August): 259-278.

Urban Institute Welfare Rules Database.  http://www.urban.org/Content/Research/NewFederalism/AboutANF/AboutANF.htm

Rowe, Gretchen with Victoria Russell, The Welfare Rules Databook: State Policies as of July 2002, Assessing the New Federalism Discussion Paper 04-06 (Urban Institute), October 2004. http://www.urban.org/UploadedPDF/311109_DP04-06.pdf

[ Go to Contents ]


Endnotes

[1] For a comparison of the 2006 rules and policies to those in 1993, see Tables 2-6.

[2] A=No policy; B=Specific policy re: cohabitor; C=General policy re: shared living

[3] A=Disregard; B=Disregard unless covers entire cost; C=Affects standard of need

[4] A=Disregard; B=Disregard unless covers entire cost; C=Affects standard of need; D=Count as unearned income

[5] A=Can look at woman and her child as a separate unit regardless of marital status; B=Can only look at woman and her child as a separate unit if unmarried; C=Always include male.  Note that DC excludes married adults from the unit if the husband's income disqualifies the unit.

[6] I=Include; O=Optional Inclusion but if excluded income disregarded; OD=Optional Inclusion but if excluded, income deemed; E=Exclude but income disregarded; ED= Exclude but income deemed

[7] A=Benefit to newly married couples; B=Benefit all married couples; C=No benefit

[8] For details regarding the individual states, see Table 1, column 1.

[9] For details regarding the individual states, see Table 1, column 5.

[10] For details regarding the individual states, see Table 1, column 2.

[11] DID=Difference in Difference.  Calculated as the difference between the Change column for states with less generous policies and the Change column for states with no change in policy.

[ Go to Contents ]

Preview
Download

"index.pdf" (pdf, 526.27Kb)

Note: Documents in PDF format require the Adobe Acrobat Reader®. If you experience problems with PDF documents, please download the latest version of the Reader®