Families on TANF in Illinois: Employment Assets and Liabilities. Influence of Liabilities on Substantial Employment: Multivariate Analysis

06/10/2003

This section presents the results of our multivariate analysis of the influence of various liabilities on the likelihood that a TANF recipient is working more than 30 hours per week. We initially investigated how the number of liabilities affects a recipient's employment status. We then investigated how the presence of specific liabilities affects a recipient's employment status. In these analyses, we considered background characteristics such as demographic traits, neighborhood and local labor market conditions, and the amount of time on TANF in the past 25 months.

 

Table IV.4
Employment Probabilities by Number of Employment Liabilities
Number of Liabilities Prevalence (%) Probability of Working 30+ Hours Per Week Difference from Probability with No Liabilities
0 4 57.8 ---
-22.8* 35.0 12 1
2- 3 37 32.8 -25.0**
4- 6 36 23.4 -34.4***
7+ 10 7.1 -50.7***
Source: Based on the results of a logit model predicting the probability of working 30+ hours per week using data from 2001-02 survey of Illinois TANF cases and Illinois administrative data.
*/**/*** Difference is statistically significant at the .10/.05/.01 level.

As shown in Table IV.4, and consistent with previous studies, the greater the number of liabilities, the less likely a case head is to work 30 or more hours per week. The multivariate logit model predicts that a TANF recipient with no liabilities has a 58 percent probability of working 30 hours or more per week. Recipients with one or more liabilities have significantly lower probabilities of working. Specifically, the probability that a recipient with one liability works 30 or more hours per week is only 35 percent, nearly 23 percentage points lower than the probability for a recipient with no employment liabilities. Recipients with two or three liabilities have a slightly lower likelihood (33 percent) of working 30 or more hours per week than those with just one liability. For recipients with four to six liabilities, the likelihood of working 30 and more hours per week drops by an additional 10 percentage points to just 23 percent. And, for TANF recipients with seven or more liabilities, the probability of working 30 hours or more hours per week is extremely low, at just 7 percent.

Table IV.5 presents predicted probabilities based on a model that estimates the relative influence of each liability on the likelihood that a recipient works 30 or more hours per week, assuming that a TANF case head has "average" characteristics and only the liability under consideration. The model predicts that a TANF recipient with no liabilities has a 50 percent chance of working 30 hours or more per week.(3)

Only 4 of the 16 liabilities in the model are significantly related to a recipient's employment status: fewer than four quarters of recent work experience, a health problem, two or more arrests in the past six years, and a child care problem. Recipients with a child care problem have only a 30 percent chance of working 30 or more hours per week, which is 20 percentage points less than recipients with no employment liabilities. Similarly, recipients with a health problem, fewer than four quarters of recent work experience, or two or more arrests have a 32, 36, or 34 percent chance, respectively, of being employed 30 or more hours per week. Note that unobserved variables not included in this model (such as personal motivation or family support) could be significantly related to a recipient's employment status. While some of these unobserved variables could directly influence a recipient's employment status, they also might influence employment through other variables in the model. For example, personal motivation might influence whether a recipient has worked in the past, and it might be personal motivation rather than recent work experience that is exerting the observed influence on employment status.

Four liabilities that have a significant bivariate relationship with employment (Table III.7) did not show a significant relationship with employment in the multivariate analysis: mental health problems, transportation problems, pregnancy, and caring for a child under the age of one. Mental health and transportation problems are liabilities that occur in combination with many other liabilities, reducing their independent influence. Pregnancy and caring for a child under the age of one do not occur in combination as often as many other liabilities, although they do tend to occur more often among younger rather than older women.

The background characteristics in these models that significantly influence a recipient's employment status include age, race, county unemployment rate, and number of children. Consistent with the results of other studies, older recipients are significantly more likely to be working than are younger recipients. Recipients who are neither black nor white also are significantly more likely to be substantially employed than are white recipients. Possibly because of Illinois's generous earned-income disregard, which makes it easier for larger families to continue to receive assistance, families with three or more children are also significantly more likely to be substantially employed than are families with just one child. As expected, a higher county unemployment rate is associated with a significantly lower probability of being employed 30 or more hours per week.

 

Table IV.5
Employment Probabilities by Individual Liabilities
Specific Liability Prevalence (%) Direction and Significance of Effect Predicted Probability of Working 30+ Hours Difference from Probability with No Liabilities
No Employment Liabilities 4     50.2  
Human Capital Liabilities
No high school diploma or GED 44 -   46.5 - 3.7
Limited recent work experience 59 - ** 35.5 - 14.7
Performed fewer than four common job tasks 28 -   47.8 - 2.4
Personal Challenges
Physical health problem 21 - ** 31.6 - 18.6
Mental health problem 25 -   47.4 - 2.8
Multiple arrests 16 - * 33.6 - 16.6
Severe physical domestic violence in past year 13 +   62.6 +12.4
Chemical dependence 3 -   47.5 - 2.7
Signs of a learning disability 12 +   55.2 +5.0
Difficulty with English 2 -   35.8 - 14.4
Logistical and Situational Challenges
Child or other family member or friend with a health problem or special need 35 +   53.2 +3.0
Child under age one in household 28 -   46.4 - 3.8
Pregnant 8 -   37.8 - 12.4
Child care problem 31 - *** 29.8 - 20.4
Transportation problem 21 -   40.4 - 9.8
Unstable housing 23 -   49.1 - 1.1
Source: Based on the results of a logit model predicting the probability of working 30+ hours per week using data from 2001-02 survey of Illinois TANF cases and Illinois administrative data.
*/**/*** Estimated effect of specified liability on employment is statistically significant at the .10/.05/.01 level.

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