Economic Patterns of Single Mothers Following Their Poverty Exits: Acknowledgments and Introduction. Roadmap to the Rest of the Report


Chapter II of the report compares the characteristics of single mothers who exit poverty to those of other groups of single mothers. This chapter also examines key events associated with poverty exits. Chapter III reports results from the spell analysis, including the length of non-poverty spells, reasons that single mothers reenter poverty, and the duration of subsequent poverty spells.

Chapters IV and V focus on the three groups of single mothers who exited poverty: those who remained out of poverty for the rest of the follow-up period, those who cycled in and out of poverty, and those who returned to poverty for the remainder of the period. In Chapter IV, we compare the characteristics of single mothers in these three groups and their reasons for exiting poverty. Chapter V focuses in more detail on the income and employment experiences of these three groups, as well as their job characteristics and public assistance receipt over the two-year period. Chapter V concludes with the findings from our multivariate analyses that describe factors — measured at the time of poverty exit — that are associated with economic success for the study population.


1. In addition to SIPP data, in our multivariate analyses, we utilize basic national- and state-level data on economic conditions, poverty levels, and welfare rules.

2. Because food stamps are often considered a "near-cash" benefit, we experimented with including food stamp benefits in our definition of cash income; however, this led to only minor changes in our sample. See the Appendix for more discussion of issues related to income definition.

3. The decision to include single mothers with a cohabiting partner is based on our focus on family-level poverty rather than household-level poverty. Consistent with this approach, we do not include cohabiters in constructing poverty thresholds, nor do we include their income as available family resources. This strategy is equivalent to assuming that cohabiters consume only their own resources and do not contribute toward or consume the resources of the family.

4. All standard error estimates used in these tests account for clustering and stratification in the SIPP design.

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