This synthesis of ASPE-funded leaver studies begins by discussing differences in the policies states have pursued, their economic climate, and the demographic characteristics of their welfare populations. It then discusses the findings from the leaver studies focusing on:
(1)the employment and earnings of leavers;
(2)leavers program participation;
(4)the material hardships leavers face; and
(5)issues relating to child well-being for leavers.
Many studies report administrative data findings from multiple cohorts of welfare leavers. Where this is the case, the focus is on the most recent cohort, especially when there are comparable survey data available for that cohort (5).
The general approach to this synthesis is to focus on the most comparable elements of the leaver studies. Data are summarized in figures which appear within the chapters; more detailed information is presented in tables which appear at the end of the chapter. Whenever possible, findings are presented for single-parent leavers. In addition to using data from published reports, the synthesis also uses public use data files from several sites (6). These public use data can be used to examine key outcomes for special subgroups of leavers that may not have been presented in published reports and to insure that these sub-groups are roughly comparable across sites. Examples of sub-groups analyzed in this synthesis include families that remain off welfare (continuous leavers) as well as leavers who are not working . Finally, several studies report findings for these and other sub-groups in their published reports. This enables us to examine a limited number of outcomes by race and ethnicity as well as for voluntary and "involuntary leavers"families that reached time limits or were sanctioned off welfare.
1.Many of these studies are reviewed in Brauner and Loprest (1999), GAO (1999), Acs and Loprest (2000), Isaacs and Lyon (2000), and DHHS/ASPE (2000).
2.Florida's survey had a response rate of 23 percent. Thus, its survey findings were not included in this final synthesis.
3.To assess the representativeness of their survey findings, most ASPE-funded leaver studies perform "non-response" analyses.
4.Arizona uses a one month requirement throughout its study but presents supplementary findings using a two month definition. In this synthesis report, we focus on the two month findings from Arizona for comparability. DC requires a leaver to remain off welfare one full calendar month.
5.Interestingly, we find few differences in outcomes across early and late cohorts within the same study area.
6. The synthesis uses public use administrative and survey data files from Arizona, DC and Iowa, and survey data from Massachusetts and Washington.