Indicators of Welfare Dependence: Annual Report to Congress, 1997. Indicator 8. Events Associated with the Beginning and Ending of Receipt of Means-tested Assistance

10/01/1997

The circumstances which are associated with beginnings or endings of receipt of assistance. reveal an important aspect of dependence that provides critical guidance for policy makers.

Table IND 8a. Percent of First AFDC Episode Beginnings Associated with Specific Events

  Spell Began
1973 - 1979
Spell Began
1980 - 1985
Spell Began
1986 - 1991
First birth to an unmarried, non-cohabiting mother 27.9 20.9 22.2
First birth to a married and/or cohabitating mother 13.3 17.4 11.3
Second (or higher order) birth 19.9 18.2 15.2
Divorce/separation 19.7 28.1 17.3
Mother's work hours decreased by more than 500 hours 26.3 18.8 26.2
Other adults' work hours decreased by more than 500 hours, but no change in family structure 34.8 27.9 21.6
Other adults' work hours decreased by more than 500 hours, and a change in family structure 4.7 7.9 11.4
Householder acquired work limitation 18.1 15.6 23.5
Other transfer income dropped by $1,000 or more (in 1996$) 4.5 6.5 4.1
Changed state of residence 4.5 10.6 5.4

Note: Events are defined to be neither mutually exclusive nor exhaustive. Work limitation is defined as a self-reported physical or nervous condition that limits the type of work or the amount of work the respondent can do.

Source: Unpublished data from the PSID, 1968 - 1992.

  • Nearly one-quarter (24 percent) of first AFDC spells that began between 1986 and 1991 were associated with the householder acquiring a work limitation. This is higher than the percentages for earlier spells in 1973 - 1979 (18 percent) and in 1980 - 1985 (16 percent).
  • The percentage of first AFDC spells associated with a first birth to an unmarried, non-cohabiting mother is similar for spells beginning in 1980 - 1985 (21 percent) and for spells beginning in 1986-1991 (22 percent). The corresponding percentage for first spells beginning in 1973 - 1979 is much higher (28 percent).
  • The percentage of first AFDC spell beginnings associated with a 500 hour or more decrease in the work hours of one or more other adults (not the mother) decreased between 1973 - 1979 (35 percent) and 1986 - 1991 (22 percent).

Table IND 8b. Percent of First AFDC Episode Endings Associated with Specific Events

  Spell Ended
1973 - 1979
Spell Ended
1980 - 1985
Spell Ended
1986 - 1991
Mother married or acquired cohabitor 16.1 17.1 21.7
Children under 18 no longer present 4.4 4.1 4.8
Mother's work hours increased by more than 500 hours 15.4 25.0 27.1
Other adults' work hours increased by more than 500 hours, but no change in family structure 21.8 16.8 16.7
Other adults' work hours increased by more than 500 hours, and a change in family structure 6.5 10.3 5.8
Householder no longer reports work limitation 13.0 19.2 15.8
Other transfer income increased by $1,000 or more (in 1996$) 5.0 5.5 5.8
Changed state of residence 5.9 11.0 5.9

Note: Events are defined to be neither mutually exclusive nor exhaustive. Work limitation is defined as a self-reported physical or nervous condition that limits the type of work or the amount of work the respondent can do.

Source: Unpublished data from the PSID, 1968 - 1992.

  • In the 1973 - 1979 period, a greater percentage of spell endings were associated with an increase in work hours for other adults (22 percent) as compared to mothers (15 percent). In the more recent time period (1986 - 1991) a greater percentage of spell endings were associated with an increase in mother's work hours (27 percent) compared to other adults (17 percent).
  • For spells beginning in the 1986 - 1991 period, the percentage of spell beginnings associated with acquiring a work limitation (24 percent, as shown in Table IND 8a) is much higher than the percentage of spell endings associated with no longer reporting a work limitation (16 percent, see above).