Final Synthesis Report of Findings from ASPE "Leavers" Grants. Income Sources

11/27/2001

Next, consider the sources of income for welfare leavers. Here, the focus is primarily on private sources; public sources of support are discussed in much more detail in Chapter IV. Table V.4 shows the share of leavers receiving income from up to four different sources: a leaver's own earnings, the earnings of other family members, child support, and financial help from family and friends. Definitions of these sources vary across studies, so comparisons should be made with caution. 

Table V.4:
Single Parent Leavers' Income from Private Sources: Survey Findings

State/ Study

Exit Cohort Timing of Survey Post Exit Percent of Leavers With Income From:
Own Earnings Other Earnings Any Earnings Child Support Family/ Friends

District of Columbia1

4Q98 ~12 months 60 n.a. 64 11 11

Georgia

1Q1999-2Q2000 ~ 6 months 69 n.a. n.a. n.a. 59

Illinois

Dec. 1998 6-8 months 63 n.a. 66 2 31 3 14

Iowa

2Q99 8-12 months 60 37 n.a. 28 25 4

Massachusetts

Dec 1998- Mar 1999 ~ 12 months 71 16 77 46 18

Missouri

4Q98 26-34 months 65 n.a. 80 22 n.a.

South Carolina5

Oct 1998-Mar 1999 12 months 61 n.a. 67 26 6 4 6

Washington

Oct. 1998 6-8 months 60 21 n.a. 23 n.a.

Cuyahoga County

3Q98 14 - 21 months 69 21 n.a. 13 12

1Income data reported for all cases; not just single-parents.
2Head or spouse/partner only; other household members' earnings not included.
3Data reported of cases with an absent parent.
4Loans or financial help from friends or family.
5Data for continuous leavers only.
6Primary source of support.
Source: See Appendix B for a complete listing of the leavers studies referenced.

Since about three out of five leavers are working, it is not surprising to find that 60 to 71 percent of leavers in the nine surveys that ask about the sources of income report having income from earnings. In addition, leavers may have access to the earned income of other household members. Four studies explicitly ask about earned income from someone other than the family head. Three of the four report that about one out of five (16 to 21 percent) of leavers have some income from the earnings of someone other than the leaver. Iowa's survey finds the highest proportion of leavers (37 percent) with income from the earnings of someone other than the family head. Five studies report a composite, "any earned income" measure. The results range from a low of 64 percent in DC to a high of 80 percent in Missouri. 

In six out of eight studies with information on child support, over 20 percent of leavers report receipt. In Massachusetts, however, nearly half of all leavers (46 percent) say they have some income from an absent parent. A relatively small share of DC and Cuyahoga County leavers say they receive child support: 11 and 13 percent, respectively.

Finally, the share of leavers reporting that they receive financial assistance from friends or family ranges from a low of 4 percent in South Carolina to a high of 59 percent in Georgia. In South Carolina, leavers are not asked to identify all their sources of support; rather they must identify their primary source of support. Thus it is not surprising that South Carolina's reported share is low. Georgia's survey, on the other hand, asks if a family needed help from family and friends and not whether the leaver actually received this help. Consequently, it is not surprising that Georgia's reported share is high. Excluding these two studies, the share of leavers reporting support from family or friends ranges from 11 percent in DC to 25 percent in Iowa.31

Next, consider how important different sources of income are for welfare leavers. Although several studies present this information, there is no standard way to group income sources or assess the average contribution of each source to total families income. Consequently, this synthesis relies on information in Iowa's and Missouri's published report and public use data available from Arizona and Washington to make these comparisons. Even with this limited set of information, the measures of income sources are not strictly comparable across sites. Also, because public use data are used to examine these leaver sub-groups, the set of income sources differs slightly from the set used above. Here, the sources of income considered are own earnings, earnings of other adults, government aid apart from TANF, TANF, and child support.

 This synthesis uses three measures to examine the importance of these sources of income. First, the synthesis reports the average amount of income a leaver receives from a specific source for all leavers who have any income from that source. In other words, the average earnings of leavers who actually have earned income are examined; leavers with no earnings are omitted. Second, the report looks at the share of total income that a particular source represents for families that have income from that source. Finally, it examines the share of total income that a particular source represents for all families, not just those with income from that source. In other words, non-earners are included in this measure. In this final measure, the shares sum to 100 percent and the importance of each share reflects both the proportion of families with income from a given source as well as the amount of income from that source.

 Table V.5 shows that among leaver families whose heads have earnings, average monthly own (e.g. head's) earnings is $1,079 in Arizona, and $951 in Washington. For these families, head's earnings represent 69 and 73 percent of family income in Arizona and Washington, respectively. For those families that actually have income from the earnings of someone other than the family head, this income is actually quite high; higher than head's earnings, in fact. In Arizona, the average earnings of others is $1,677 which represents 73 percent of the income of families with this source of income; in Washington, average earnings of others is $1,391, representing 65 percent of family income. Missouri's study reports information on total household earnings: leavers with earned income average $1,395 in earnings, representing 85 percent of their households' incomes.

Table V.5:
Mean Monthly Income and Share of Income By Source of Income for Single-Parent Welfare Leavers: Calculations from Public Use Data Files

State/Study

Source of Income
Own Earnings Other Earnings Child Support Government Aid1 TANF

Mean Income By Source for Those With Income From Source2 ($)

Arizona

1,079 1,677 242 383 286

Missouri3

1,395 4 n.a. 226 n.a. 281

Washington

951 1,391 285 924 n.a.

Share of Income By Source for Those With Income From Source2 (%)

Arizona

69 73 28 36 45

Missouri3

85 4 n.a. 27 n.a. 53

Washington

73 65 29 62 n.a.

Share of Income By Source Across All Families5 (%)

Arizona

42 38 3 3 12

Iowa6

45 37 6 10 7 n.a.

Washington

47 27 6 17 n.a.

1Government aid includes various public support programs. In Arizona, it includes food stamps, SSI, SSDI, General Assistance, and 'other assistance.' Washington includes SSI, Social Security, General Assistance, Unemployment Compensation, retirement benefits, worker's compensation, and 'other assistance.'
2Zero values excluded from calculations.
3Data from published report.
4Total household earnings.
5Zero values included in calculations.
6Calculated from data in published report. Data does not sum to 100% because of rounding and item non-response.
7Includes TANF.
Source: See Appendix B for a complete listing of the leavers studies referenced.

Child support is an important income supplement to those families that receive it. Among leavers receiving child support, the average monthly amount ranges from $226 in Missouri to $285 in Washington and represents just over one-quarter of these leavers' family incomes. 

Many leavers rely on government assistance and some have returned to TANF. Among families receiving non-TANF aid in Arizona, the average value of aid, including the cash value of food stamps, is almost $400, and it represents about one-third of a leaver's income. Families that return to TANF receive an average of about $300 a month, and this represents about half the income among leavers who return to TANF in Arizona and Missouri. Washington reports information on all government assistance including TANF. In total, leavers in Washington that receive any government aid receive an average of $924 a month, representing 62 percent of family income for these leavers. 

Finally, the bottom third of Table V.5 examines the share of total income that each particular source represents for all families, not just those with income from that source. 32 These shares cannot be computed from Missouri's published data; however, information from Iowa's leaver study can be included. Overall, head's earnings account for between 42 and 47 percent of leavers' family incomes and are the single most important source of income in Arizona, Iowa, and Washington. Earnings of others is the next most important source of income, accounting for over one-third of income for leavers in Arizona and Iowa; in Washington, other earnings represents 27 percent of family income. Thus, overall, earned income accounts for over three-quarters of leavers' family incomes. Child support plays a very small role in family income overall, ranging from 3 to 6 percent across the three studies. Government aid including TANF accounts for 10 to 17 percent of family income. 

Income Sources for Subgroups of Leavers

Continuous Leavers. Table V.6 examines differences in sources of income for both continuous and all leavers.33 In both Arizona and Iowa, families that have remained off TANF for at least a year are more likely to have earnings from the family head than leavers in general. Continuous leavers in Arizona are also slightly more likely to have other earned income and to receive child support. For these two income sources, there is little difference between continuous and all leavers in Iowa. Continuous leavers in both studies are less likely to receive government assistance than leavers in general.

Table V.6:
Mean Monthly Income and Incidence By Source for Single-Parent Welfare Leavers With Income From Select Sources--Comparison of Continuous Leavers: Calculations from Public Use Data Files

State/ Study

Source of Income
Own Earnings Other Earnings Child Support Government Aid1 TANF

Percent with Source

Arizona

All Leavers

50 30 16 47 16

Continuous Leavers

56 34 20 39 6 2

Iowa3

All Leavers

60 42 4 28 35 n.a.

Continuous Leavers

69 41 4 33 19 n.a.

Amount for Those With Income From Source ($)

Arizona

All Leavers

1,079 1,677 242 383 286

Continuous Leavers

1,118 1,711 242 396 327 2

1Government aid includes various public support programs. In Arizona, it includes food stamps, SSI, SSDI, General Assistance, and 'other assistance.' Iowa includes TANF, SSI, Social Security, General Assistance, Unemployment Compensation, Child care assistance, emergency assistance, and 'other assistance.' Washington includes SSI, Social Security, General Assistance, Unemployment Compensation, retirement benefits, worker's compensation, and 'other assistance.'
2A continuous leaver is defined as a leaver who did not return to assistance for 12 months. Arizona's survey took place 12-18 months post exit, therefore it is possible for some of the 'continuous leavers' to have returned to assistance after the twelve month period we use for the definition but within the survey period.
3Data from published report.
4Other income.
Source: See Appendix B for a complete listing of the leavers studies referenced.

In Arizona, continuous leavers have slightly higher household head's earnings and other earnings than leavers in general. There are no differences in the average amount of child support between the two groups of leavers. Finally, continuous leavers who receive government aid in Arizona tend to receive slightly more government aid than leavers in general. This may indicate that continuous leavers who receive such aid may be getting SSI while other leavers receiving aid are only receiving food stamps or have returned to TANF, which provides lower benefits than SSI. 34

Leavers' Sources of Income Based on Employment Status. Table V.7 shows the sources of income for leavers based on their employment status. Virtually all currently employed leavers and virtually none of the jobless leavers had earnings in the month prior to the survey.35 One might expect that non-working leavers are more likely to have income from others, child support, and government assistance than those who are currently working. With the exception of child support, we find this generally to be the case. 

Table V.7:
Mean Monthly Income and Incidence By Source for Single-Parent Welfare Leavers With Income From Select Sources By Employment Status: Calculations from Public Use Data Files

State/ Study

Source of Income
Own Earnings Other Earnings Child Support Government Aid1 TANF

Percent with Source

Arizona

All Leavers

50 30 16 47 16

Currently Employed

29 17 35 6

Not Currently Employed

31 16 59 26

Iowa2

All Leavers

60 42 28 35 n.a.

Currently Employed

35 35 22 n.a.

Not Currently Employed

46 17 56 n.a.

Washington

All Leavers

60 21 24 22 n.a.

Currently Employed

20 26 17 n.a.

Currently Jobless

21 17 31 n.a.

Never Worked Since Exit

31 24 28 n.a.

Amount For Those With Income From Source ($)

Arizona

All Leavers

1,079 1,677 242 383 286

Currently Employed

1,084 1,737 251 306 259

Not Currently Employed

1,600 229 449 294

Washington

All Leavers

951 1,391 285 924 n.a.

Currently Employed

1,006 1,271 247 1,181 n.a.

Not Currently Employed

1,508 264 741 n.a.

Never Worked Since Exit

1,555 487 629 n.a.

1Government aid includes various public support programs. In Arizona, it includes food stamps, SSI, SSDI, General Assistance, and 'other assistance.' Iowa includes TANF, SSI, Social Security, General Assistance, Unemployment Compensation, Child care assistance, emergency assistance, and 'other assistance.' Washington includes SSI, Social Security, General Assistance, Unemployment Compensation, retirement benefits, worker's compensation, and 'other assistance.'
2Data from published report.
Source: See Appendix B for a complete listing of the leavers studies referenced.

In Iowa, 46 percent of jobless leavers live in families with other earnings, compared with 35 percent of currently employed leavers. In Arizona, however, the share of leavers with other earned income does not vary much by employment status. In Washington, the comparison is more complex. Leavers who have never worked are substantially more likely to live in families with other earnings than currently employed leavers; among Washington leavers who have worked since exit, however, there is little difference between currently working and currently jobless leavers.

 In all three studies, working leavers are more likely to receive child support than non-working leavers, although the difference is minor in Arizona. Interestingly, in Washington, which allows us to examine leavers who never worked since exit, we find that leavers who never worked are almost as likely to receive child support as those who are currently working.

Not surprisingly, jobless leavers are far more likely to receive government aid than working leavers. Almost 60 percent of leavers who are not currently working received some form of government aid other than TANF in Arizona and Iowa compared with 35 and 22 percent of working leavers in those two states, respectively. In

Washington, only 17 percent of working leavers received such government assistance, compared with 31 percent of currently jobless leavers and 28 percent of leavers who never worked since exit.

 Finally, the bottom half of Table V.7 shows the average amount of monthly income from these sources based on the employment status of leavers, presenting contradictory information from the two studies with data that allow such comparisons. Among leavers who live with working adults, non-working leavers receive more other earnings, on average, than working leavers in Washington; the reverse is true in Arizona. In Arizona, there is only a modest difference in the amount of child support received by working leavers compared with other leavers. However, in Washington among families receiving child support, those who have never worked since exit receive over $200 more in child support than other leavers. And in Arizona, working leavers receiving TANF or other government assistance receive less on average than non-working leavers. In Washington, however, working leavers that receive government assistance generally receive more than non-working leavers.