Indicators of Welfare Dependence: Annual Report to Congress, 2005 . Indicator 8. Program Spell Duration

08/30/2005

Figure IND 8. Percentage of TANF, Food Stamp and SSI Spells for Individuals Entering Programs during the 2001 SIPP Panel, by Length of Spell

Figure IND 8. Percentage of TANF, Food Stamp and SSI Spells for Individuals Entering Programs during the 2001 SIPP Panel, by Length of Spell

Source: Unpublished tabulations from the Survey of Income and Program Participation, 2001 panel.

  • Between the years 2001 and 2003, short spells lasting 4 months or less accounted for about 50 percent of TANF spells, 36 percent of food stamp spells, and 28 percent of SSI spells.
  • Approximately three-fourths of all TANF spells (73 percent) and three-fifths of food stamp spells (60 percent) lasted one year or less. In contrast, only 49 percent of SSI spells ended within one year.
  • As shown in Table IND 8a, for TANF spells, a smaller percentage of long spells (lasting more than 20 months) occurred among non-Hispanic whites compared to non-Hispanic blacks and Hispanics. In contrast, these groups did not differ greatly in the percentage of long spells for food stamps.
  • Spells of welfare receipt were shorter in the early 2000s than in the early 1990s, as shown in Table IND 8b. For example, only 17 percent of TANF spells for individuals entering TANF between 2001 and 2003 lasted 20 months or longer, compared with 34 percent of AFDC spells beginning between 1992 and 1994.
  • 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 TANF, Food Stamp and SSI Spells for Individuals Entering Programs during the 2001 SIPP Panel, by Length of Spell, Race/Ethnicity and Age

  Spells <=4 Months Spells 5-12 Months Spells 13-20 Months Spells >20 Months
TANF All Recipients 49.6 23.7 10.0 16.8
Racial/Ethnic Categories   
Non-Hispanic White 51.4 23.7 13.1 11.9
Non-Hispanic Black 50.6 23.5 6.8 19.1
Hispanic 51.7 20.1 8.4 19.8
Age Categories
Ages 0-5 Years 50.0 24.0 11.9 14.1
Ages 6-10 Years 45.4 21.5 8.5 24.6
Ages 11-15 Years 43.7 25.3 12.4 18.6
Ages 16-64 Years 52.9 24.2 8.4 14.4
65 Years and Older NA NA NA NA
FOOD STAMPS All Recipients 35.9 24.4 8.9 30.7
Racial/Ethnic Categories
Non-Hispanic White 35.9 25.8 8.0 30.3
Non-Hispanic Black 32.2 23.7 11.7 32.4
Hispanic 40.5 22.5 7.8 29.2
Age Categories
Ages 0-5 Years 27.7 25.6 12.9 33.8
Ages 6-10 Years 28.6 27.4 10.7 33.3
Ages 11-15 31.8 28.1 9.6 30.6
Ages 16-64 40.3 23.9 7.5 28.4
65 Years and Older 30.0 12.5 9.6 48.0
SSI All Recipients 27.9 21.4 7.3 43.5
Racial/Ethnic Categories
Non-Hispanic White 31.3 19.8 7.9 41.0
Non-Hispanic Black 26.9 25.3 7.1 40.7
Hispanic 23.7 18.8 7.3 50.2
Age Categories
Ages 0-10 NA NA NA NA
Ages 11-15 31.2 18.8 3.9 46.1
Ages 16-64 29.4 20.9 7.2 42.5
65 Years and Older 22.7 23.2 8.4 45.7

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. TANF spells are defined as those starting during the 2001 SIPP Panel. For certain age categories, data are not available (NA) 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 tabulations from the Survey of Income and Program Participation, 2001 panel.

Table IND 8b. Percentage of AFDC/TANF, Food Stamp and SSI Spells for Individuals Entering Programs during the 1992, 1993, 1996 and 2001 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
2001 Panel
TANF 49.6 23.7 10.0 16.8
Food Stamps 35.9 24.4 8.9 30.7
SSI 27.9 21.4 7.3 43.5

Source: Unpublished tabulations from the Survey of Income and Program Participation, 1992, 1993, 1996 and 2001 Panels.

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