Indicators of Welfare Dependence: Annual Report to Congress, 2000. AFDC/TANF Program Data

03/01/2000

The following tables and figures present a variety of data about the AFDC and TANF programs.  Tables A-1 through A-5 and Figures A-1 through A-3 present national caseload and expenditure trend data on the AFDC/TANF program.  These are followed by two tables showing information on characteristics of AFDC/TANF families and a series of tables presenting state-by-state data on trends in the AFDC/TANF program.  These data complement the data on trends in AFDC recipiency and participation rates shown in Table IND 9a and Table IND 10a in Chapter II.

Table A-1 presents information on the average monthly number of AFDC families and recipients for each fiscal year since 1970 through 1998.  The U.S. caseload peaked at record highs in 1994, with an average 14.2 million recipients in over 5 million families receiving AFDC benefits each month.  Since then the caseload has declined about 38 percent — to a monthly average of 8.8 million recipients in 3.2 million families in 1998.

As shown in Figure A-1, AFDC enrollments and benefit outlays generally tended to increase in times of economic recession and decline in times of economic growth.  Policy changes, such as the eligibility restrictions of the early 1980s, have also affected caseloads.  However, the recent decline has far outstripped that experienced in any previous period.  A number of studies have attempted to explain the recent decline, and to determine the relative effect of economic factors versus policy changes in explaining the caseload by looking at the variation in caseload decline among states.

A recent report by the Council of Economic Advisors, The Effects of Welfare Policy and the Economic Expansion on Welfare Caseloads: An Update, August 3, 1999, finds that during the pre-TANF period (1993-1996), the strong economy was the largest factor explaining the welfare decline, and that changing policies under waivers and lower welfare benefits in real dollars also had a substantial impact.  During the post-TANF period (1996-1998), the CEA finds that policy changes accounted for about a third of the decline in welfare receipt, and that both the strong economy and the increase in the minimum wage accounted for about 10 percent of the decline each.  In both periods, a large portion of the welfare decline is not explained by the examined variables.  Possible factors that could account for this additional decline include the expansions of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and changing cultural perceptions of welfare receipt.

A common misperception of welfare families is that they have unusually large numbers of children.  Table A-1 and Figure A-2 show that the average number of children per welfare family dropped steadily from the late 1960s through the early 1980s, and has remained steady at around 2 children per household since.  While female-headed households receiving welfare have a higher average number of children than non-poor female-headed households, they have a lower average than all poor female-headed households.  Children as percentage of all AFDC/TANF recipients have increased somewhat in the past few years, because child-only cases have not declined as fast as other cases in the welfare population.

Table A-2 and Figure A-3 show that inflation has had a significant effect in eroding the value of the average monthly AFDC/TANF benefit.  In real dollars, the average monthly benefit per recipient in 1998 was only 65 percent of what it was at its peak in the late 1970s.

Tables A-3 and A-4 show trends in expenditures on AFDC and TANF.  Table A-3 breaks out the costs of benefits and administrative expenses, and shows the division between federal and state spending.  Table A-4 breaks out the benefits paid under the single parent or "basic" program and the Unemployed Parent (UP) program, and also nets out the value of child support collected on behalf of recipient children, but retained by the state to reimburse welfare expenditures.  This table presents data through 1996 only, because the TANF data reporting requirements do not require that caseload data be separated into "basic" and "UP" components.

Table A-5 places the AFDC/TANF caseload trends in context, by showing the number of recipients as a percentage of various populations.  In 1998, TANF recipients were a smaller percentage of the total population than at any time since 1967.

Figure A-4 and Table A-6 show a number of demographic characteristics of AFDC/TANF families.  One of the most striking trends is the recent jump in the fraction of families with earnings.  In FY 1998, 20.6 percent of TANF families had earned income, up from 11.1 percent in FY 1996 and 7.4 percent in FY 1992.

Tables A-7 through A-13 present state-by-state trend data on the AFDC/TANF expenditures and caseloads.  These reveal a great deal of state-to-state variation in the trends discussed above.  For example, as shown in Table A-9, while every state has experienced a caseload decline since 1993, the percentage change from 1993-1998 ranges from 84 percent (Wyoming) to 12 percent (Rhode Island).  Table A-10 shows that states reached their peak caseloads as early as May 1990 (Louisiana) and as late as May 1995 (Maryland).

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"Table of Contents, Executive Summary" (pdf, 33.35Kb)

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"Chapter I. Introduction" (pdf, 51.31Kb)

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"Chapter II . Indicators of Dependence" (pdf, 159.54Kb)

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"Chapter III. Predictors and Risk Factors Associated with Welfare Receipt" (pdf, 228.15Kb)

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"Appendix A. Program Data" (pdf, 35.33Kb)

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