Implementing Welfare Reform Requirements for Teenage Parents: Lessons from Experience in Four States . Characteristics of the Four Study States


As Table 1 illustrates, the four study states are quite diverse. Arizona is a medium-sized state with one of the highest teenage birth rates in the nation. Relatively poor in terms of both per capita income and percentage of its population living below the poverty level, the state offers low cash assistance benefits. California contains more people and provides cash assistance to a larger proportion of its population than any other state. Its cash assistance benefits are among the highest in the nation. Although the state has an above-average per capita income, a very high proportion of its population lives in poverty.

Massachusetts--one of the most affluent states, with one of the highest per capita incomes--has one of the lowest poverty rates. It has a low teenage birthrate and offers above-average cash assistance benefits. Virginia offers low cash assistance benefits and provides cash assistance to a small proportion of its population; the state's per capita income is slightly higher than that of the nation as a whole, and its poverty rate is low.