How Effective Are Different Welfare-to-Work Approaches? Five-Year Adult and Child Impacts for Eleven Programs. Household Composition

12/01/2001

In the context of these programs, the immediate presence of other adults or family members may facilitate the transition to employment or may ease the burden of being employed during rotating or weekend hours because of available child care support. Thus, welfare-to-work programs may encourage single mothers to live with extended family. Decreases in income may also encourage program group members to live with extended family or a partner. Alternatively, increases in income may allow program group members to live independently, without the sup-port of relatives or other adults. Because it is often assumed that other household members contribute to family income, one outcome of particular policy interest is the proportion of single mothers who live with an unrelated adult. Unrelated adults who are not cohabiting partners may not contribute to family resources in the same way as spouses or cohabiting partners. Figure 9.2 shows the proportion of control group members who lived with unrelated adults, for the sample of respondents who were in both the two-year and five-year surveys. Approximately 10 percent (in Atlanta) to 25 percent (in Riverside) of the control group members lived with an unrelated adult at the two-year follow-up or the five-year follow-up (again, a best estimate of "ever" occurring over a five-year follow-up period). These outcome levels are somewhat comparable to recent figures showing that 24 percent of single mothers in the poorest income decile lived with an unrelated male in 1995 and 25 percent lived with an unrelated male in 1997.(12)

Figure 9.2
Control Group Levels of Living with an Unrelated Adult

Control Group Levels of Living with an Unrelated Adult

SOURCE: MDRC calculations from the Five-Year Client Survey.
NOTES: See Appendix A.2.
Owing to missing values, sample sizes may vary.

The lower panels of Table 9.3 show impacts on living with an unrelated adult and various other measures of household composition. Overall, there were few program impacts on household composition, except for impacts on living alone. The proportion of sample members who reported living alone at the five-year follow-up was less than 6 percent. The Atlanta LFA and HCD programs decreased the proportion of program group members who reported living alone by 3.6 and 2.6 percentage points, respectively; however, the Riverside HCD program increased the proportion by 2.3 percentage points. Although it is difficult to determine without further analysis, these effects may suggest that program group families in Atlanta are more likely to live with their children and program group families in the Riverside HCD program are less likely to live with their children. There is some, albeit rough, support for this hypothesis. As discussed in Chapter 11, very young children of program group members in Atlanta are less likely than children of control group members to have not lived with their mother because she could not care for them, and children of program group members in Riverside are more likely than children of control group members to have not lived with their mother because she could not care for them.