Families on TANF in South Carolina: Employment Assets and Liabilities. Findings on “high Risk” Sub-groups

10/01/2004

  • Health problems were more common among older than younger respondents. 

Seventy percent of respondents aged 40 and older rated their overall health as poor or fair, compared to 12% of the respondents under 25 years of age (Figure ES-1). Older respondents were more likely to have chronic health conditions and mental health problems than younger respondents. Over half of respondents aged 40 and older could be classified as having a mental health problem, compared to about a quarter of respondents aged under 25 (Figure ES-1). Older respondents were also more likely to score high on the Psychological Distress Scale, and to have experienced major depression in the past year.

Figure ES-1 - Percentage of Respondents with Physical and Mental Health Problems, by Age

Source: Telephone surveys of 1,120 TANF recipients in South Carolina. *The differences between 18-24 year olds and 40+ year olds were statistically significant at the 95% confidence level
 
  • Older respondents who were not employed were much more likely than younger respondents to cite health-related reasons for not working.

Over 60% of the respondents aged 35 and older cited health as a major reason for not working, compared to 6% of non-employed respondents aged under 30. Younger respondents were more likely to cite lack of jobs, pregnancy, being in school, and child care as the main reasons for not working.

  • Health problems were also more common among divorced and separated respondents.

Divorced or separated respondents were much more likely than never married respondents to rate their overall health as poor or fair and to have chronic health conditions, as well as a higher prevalence of mental health problems than never married respondents.1 Some of this effect may be due to the fact that divorced or separated respondents tend to be older than never married respondents.

  • White respondents reported more health problems than blacks.

Thirty-seven percent of white respondents rated their overall health as poor or fair compared to a quarter of black respondents, and whites (48%) were significantly more likely than blacks (31%) to report that they had a chronic health or medical condition. Mental health problems were also more common among white respondents; 47% of white respondents could be classified as having a mental health problem compared to 28% of black respondents.2

Based on administrative records data, white TANF recipients had higher rates of hospital emergency department use and hospitalization than black TANF recipients. The differences between whites and blacks were found in a range of diagnostic categories, including both physical and mental health problems.


1 The differences were statistically significant at the 95% confidence level.

2 The differences between blacks and whites were statistically significant at the 95% confidence level.

 

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