The Welfare Indicators Act challenges the U.S. 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. However, welfare research has not established clear and definitive causes of welfare receipt and dependence. Instead, it has identified a number of risk factors associated with welfare use. For the purposes of this report, the terms “predictors” and “risk factors” are used somewhat interchangeably.
Following the recommendation of the Advisory Board, this chapter includes a wide range of possible predictors and risk factors. As research advances, 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.
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 nonmarital childbearing.