Indicators of Welfare Dependence: Annual Report to Congress, 2008. Chapter I. Introduction and Overview



  • Organization of Report
  • Measuring Welfare Dependence
  • Measuring Economic Well-Being
  • Data Sources

The Welfare Indicators Act of 1994 (Public Law 103-432) directed the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to publish an annual report on welfare dependency. This 2008 report, the eleventh annual indicators report, gives updated data on the measures of welfare recipiency, dependency, and predictors of welfare dependence developed for previous reports. Much of this report reflects changes that have taken place since enactment of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) in August 1996.

The purpose of this report is to address questions concerning the extent to which American families depend on income from welfare programs. Under the Welfare Indicators Act, HHS was 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 Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program (formerly the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program), the Food Stamp Program, and the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. Throughout the report we use AFDC/TANF to refer to cash assistance benefits received under these two programs because the AFDC program preceded the TANF program.

This 2008 report provides updated measures through 2005 for dependency measures based on the Current Population Survey (CPS), Annual Social and Economic Supplement. Although more recent administrative data provide some information on recipiency through 2006, the survey data needed to examine overall welfare recipiency are not available past 2005 for the CPS-based measures, 2003 for the SIPP-based measures, and 2004 for the Panel Study of Income Dynamics measures. As in the 2007 report, measures updated annually are presented at the front of each chapter, followed by the figures that are derived from data sources that are updated less frequently.


View full report


"report.pdf" (pdf, 673.5Kb)

Note: Documents in PDF format require the Adobe Acrobat Reader®. If you experience problems with PDF documents, please download the latest version of the Reader®