Final Synthesis Report of Findings from ASPE "Leavers" Grants. Chapter Summary


There are a number of measures that can be used to assess the well-being of families leaving welfare beyond employment and income. The ASPE grantees report a variety of different measures on leavers experiences with food, housing, and medical hardships. Across these varied measures, most studies report a quarter or more leaver families are experiencing food hardships and similar percentages are experiencing trouble paying rent or utilities. A smaller percentage report trouble accessing and affording health care. While some studies show that leavers experience the same or lower levels of food-related and housing hardship after exit relative to when on TANF, other studies shows that hardships increase after exit. In general, medical hardships tend to increase after exit.


37All statistics reported in this chapter come from survey data.
38Arizona, Illinois, and Washington use a 6-month window for their questions (e.g. "have you experienced this problem in the past 6 months? Before the past 6 months?"). South Carolina uses a 12-month window. These windows roughly correspond to pre- and post-exit time periods. The District of Columbia and Massachusetts ask about the time while on TANF and the time since leaving TANF, about 10 months for Massachusetts and 12 months for DC. All of these studies compare leavers' experiences before and after exit except Washington. Washington compares leavers experiences to a separate group of TANF recipients. The remaining studies that do not present comparisons, generally report experience of the specific hardship since exit. This varies by the timing of the survey interview relative to exit.
39The studies used the six-item short form of this scale.
40A number of these questions are part of the six-question USDA scale described above, but these studies did not ask all six questions. South Carolina asked all 6 questions but did not compute food insecurity.
41Only a subset of all available measures are included in Table VI.2.
42We do not discuss here whether these differences are statistically significant, which is not reported in most studies.
43Illinois also reports separate results for those who are continuously employed, intermittently employed, and never employed since exit. We do not show these results here.
44All of these categories are based on reasons for leaving as reported in administrative data rather than on self-reported information from surveys, although the hardship measures are based on survey responses.