Indicators of Welfare Dependence: Annual Report to Congress, 2004. Indicator 8. Program Spell Duration

04/27/2005

Figure IND 8. Percentage of AFDC/TANF, Food Stamp, and SSI Spells for Individuals Entering Programs During the 1996 SIPP Panel, by Length of Spell

Figure IND 8. Percentage of AFDC/TANF, Food Stamp, and SSI Spells for Individuals Entering Programs During the 1996 SIPP Panel, by Length of Spel

Source: Unpublished data from the SIPP, 1996 Panel.


  • Between the years 1996 and 1999, short spells lasting 4 months or less accounted for about 47 percent of AFDC/TANF spells, 43 percent of food stamp spells, and 34 percent of SSI spells.
  • Approximately three-fourths of all AFDC/TANF and food stamp spells lasted one year or less (76 percent and 71 percent, respectively). In contrast, only 53 percent of SSI spells ended within one year.
  • As shown in Table IND 8a, for TANF/AFDC spells, a smaller percentage of long spells (lasting more than 20 months) occurred among non-Hispanic whites compared to non-Hispanic blacks and Hispanics.
  • Spells of welfare receipt were shorter in the second half of the 1990s than in the early 1990s, as shown in Table IND 8b. For example, only 13 percent of AFDC/TANF spells for individuals entering AFDC/TANF between 1996 and 1999 lasted 20 months or longer, compared with 34 percent of AFDC spells beginning between 1992 and 1994.
  • Short spells are less common among recipients in families without labor force participants, as shown previously in Figure and Table IND 7.
  • Length of TANF receipt varies across states, as shown in Appendix Table TANF 17, which shows an alternative measure of length of TANF receipt, using state administrative data.

Table IND 8a. Percentage of AFDC/TANF, Food Stamp and SSI Spells for Individuals Entering Programs During the 1996 SIPP Panel, by Length of Spell, Race/Ethnicity, and Age

  Spells <=4 Months Spells 5-12 Months Spells 13-20 Months Spells >20 Months
AFDC/TANF All Recipients 46.6 29.2 11.5 12.7
Racial/Ethnic Categories
Non-Hispanic White 47.4 33.0 10.7 8.9
Non-Hispanic Black 45.2 28.3 13.6 12.9
Hispanic 46.3 25.4 10.5 17.9
Age Categories
Ages 0-5 Years 41.8 33.2 10.8 14.2
Ages 6 to 10 Years 49.4 24.6 9.0 17.0
Ages 11 to 15 Years 42.5 25.6 N/A N/A
Ages 16 to 64 Years 48.6 30.7 12.0 8.7
65 Years and Older N/A N/A N/A N/A
FOOD STAMPS All Recipients 43.1 27.7 9.3 19.8
Racial/Ethnic Categories
Non-Hispanic White 46.5 27.5 9.4 16.7
Non-Hispanic Black 38.6 28.5 9.1 23.9
Hispanic 41.7 28.5 8.1 21.8
Age Categories
Ages 0 to 5 years 36.5 31.4 8.6 23.5
Ages 6 to 10 years 40.6 27.3 9.1 22.9
Ages 11-15 40.4 30.3 10.0 19.3
Ages 16-64 46.2 26.7 9.6 17.6
65 Years and Older 31.7 26.8 6.9 34.7
SSI All Recipients 34.1 19.2 9.1 37.6
Racial/Ethnic Categories
Non-Hispanic White 36.8 18.7 7.8 36.7
Non-Hispanic Black 34.8 19.7 9.5 36.0
Hispanic 27.1 22.4 9.8 40.7
Age Categories
Ages 0-10 N/A N/A N/A N/A
Ages 11-15 30.9 N/A N/A N/A
Ages 16-64 37.1 20.1 8.6 34.2
65 Years and Older 22.1 16.7 11.9 49.3

Note: Spell length categories are not mutually exclusive. Spells separated by only 1 month are not considered separate spells. Due to the length of the observation period, actual spell lengths for spells that lasted more than 20 months cannot be observed. AFDC/TANF spells are defined as those starting during the 1996 SIPP Panel. For certain age categories, data are not available (N/A) because of insufficient sample size.

Persons of Hispanic ethnicity may be of any race. Due to small sample size, American Indians/Alaska Natives, Asians and Native Hawaiians/Other Pacific Islanders are included in the total for all persons but are not shown separately.

Source: Unpublished data from the SIPP, 1996 Panel.


Table IND 8b. Percentage of AFDC/TANF, Food Stamp and SSI Spells for Individuals Entering Programs During the 1992, 1993, and 1996 SIPP Panels

  Spells <=4 Months Spells 5-12 Months Spells 13-20 Months Spells >20 Months
1992 Panel
AFDC 30.4 24.7 10.5 34.4
Food Stamps 33.4 24.9 10.2 31.5
SSI 25.7 8.9 4.8 60.6
1993 Panel
AFDC 30.7 25.4 12.5 31.4
Food Stamps 33.1 26.8 10.1 30.0
SSI 24.0 7.9 4.7 63.4
1996 Panel
AFDC/TANF 46.6 29.2 11.5 12.7
Food Stamps 43.1 27.7 9.3 19.8
SSI 34.1 19.2 9.1 37.6

Source: Unpublished data from the SIPP, 1992, 1993, and 1996 Panels.

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