Indicators of Welfare Dependence: Annual Report to Congress, 2000. Chapter III. Predictors and Risk Factors Associated with Welfare Receipt

03/01/2000

The Welfare Indicators Act challenges the Department of Health and Human Services to identify and set forth not only indicators of welfare dependence and welfare duration, but also predictors and causes of welfare receipt. Up to this point, welfare research has not established clear and definitive causes of welfare dependence. However, research has identified a number of risk factors associated with welfare utilization. For purposes of this report, the terms “predictors” and “risk factors” are used somewhat interchangeably, although the differences between them are acknowledged.

Where the Advisory Board recommended narrowing the focus of dependence indicators, it recommended an expansive view toward predictors and risk factors. The first two annual reports included a set of 30 different predictors and risk factors; of these, 20 are included in the current volume. As discussed in Chapter I, the reduction in the length of the report responds to Congressional intent and reduces overlap with other publications issued by the Department. Even with this reduction, the range of possible predictors is extremely wide, and until they are measured and analyzed over time as the PRWORA changes are implemented, their value will not be known. Some of the “predictors” included in this chapter may turn out to be simply correlates of welfare receipt, some may have a causal relationship, some may be consequences, and some may have predictive value.

For purposes of this report, the predictors/risk factors included in this chapter are grouped into three categories: economic security risk factors, employment-related risk factors, and risk factors associated with non-marital childbearing.

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