Indicators of Welfare Dependence: Annual Report to Congress, 2000. Chapter I: Introduction

03/01/2000

The Welfare Indicators Act of 1994 (Pub. L. 103-432) directed the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to publish an annual report on welfare dependency. The purpose of this report is to address questions concerning the extent to which American families depend on income from welfare programs. HHS has been specifically directed to address the rate of welfare dependency, the degree and duration of welfare recipiency and dependence, and predictors of welfare dependence. The Act further specified that analyses of means-tested assistance should include benefits under the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program, now Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF); the Food Stamp Program; and the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program.

An Advisory Board on Welfare Indicators was established under the 1994 Act to assist the Secretary in defining welfare dependence, developing indicators of welfare dependence, and choosing appropriate data for inclusion in the first annual report. The Board consisted of a bipartisan group of experts appointed by the Senate, the House of Representatives and the President. Before its termination in October 1997, the Board developed a statistical definition of welfare dependence and oversaw the production of the first of these annual reports.

This March 2000 report, the third annual report, gives updated data on the measures of welfare recipiency, dependency, and predictors of welfare dependence developed for previous reports. It differs in two respects from earlier volumes. First, this report focuses on a smaller set of indicators and predictors of dependency, in keeping with Congressional intent. The reduction in length of the report also reflects the decision to move some of the more detailed data on poverty and deprivation to other Departmental publications.1 A second change is that the date of publication has been moved from October to March, in conformance with the report's authorizing legislation, which requires the report to be released within sixty days of the start of the legislative session. A March release also allows the Department to present more timely data, as many important administrative and national survey figures are released at the end of the year.


1Further data on poverty and income, as well as current and past annual reports on Indicators of Welfare Dependence, are available online at http://aspe.hhs.gov/hsp/index.htm. This same web page provides access to the annual Trends in the Well-Being of America's Children and Youth, another important data source for indicators of economic, health, and social well-being.

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