Indicators of Welfare Dependence: Annual Report to Congress, 2008. INDICATOR 10. Events Associated with the Beginning and Ending of Program Spells

12/20/2008

Figure IND 10a.
Events Associated with Single Mother TANF Exits during the 2001-2003 Period

Figure IND 10a

Note:  Welfare exits are defined as moving from receipt to non-receipt between two successive SIPP interviews (conducted 4 months apart); an event was associated with a welfare transition if the event was observed within two interviews (i.e., 8 months) of the interview marking the welfare exit.  In general, events are neither mutually exclusive nor exhaustive, and transition events may sum to more than 100 percent.  Two exceptions are that “Increase in other Household Earnings” was limited to cases when there were increases in household earnings without an increase in recipient earnings, and “Increase in Adults (not marriage)” was limited to cases where the adult joining the household was not marrying the head of the household.  While only affecting a small number of cases, General Assistance income is included within AFDC/TANF income. Other government benefits include Unemployment Insurance, Foster Care, Railroad Retirement, veterans payments and Workers Compensation.  An increase in earnings must be an increase of at least $50 per month.  A work limitation is defined as a condition that limits the kind or amount of work.  The category "None of above in recent past" represents the percentage of all spell beginnings during the period that were not associated with any of the events measured.

Spells of welfare receipt and associated events are measured using monthly data from the SIPP.  In the 2003 Indicators of Welfare Dependence volume (and earlier volumes), events associated with the beginning and ending of program spells were measured using annual data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID).  Thus, the estimates shown above are not comparable to estimates reported in volumes prior to 2004.

Events sum to more than 100 percent because the same household could experience more than one event associated with a specific welfare entry or exit.

Source:  Unpublished tabulations from the Survey of Income and Program Participation, 2001 panel.


  • Figure IND 10a shows events associated with single mother TANF exits during the 2001 – 2003 time period.  Welfare exits were most often associated with an increase in recipient earnings.  Thirty-four (34.1) percent of welfare spells that ended during the 2001 to 2003 time period were associated with an increase in the recipient’s earnings.  Twelve (12.1) percent of welfare exits were associated with an increase in the earnings of other household members.
  • Thirty-seven percent of welfare exits during the 2001 – 2003 time period were not associated with any of the events listed above within the time period observed.
  • Table IND 10a shows the events associated with welfare exits among single mother recipients for selected years.  Exits associated with an increase in recipient earnings have decreased over time.  For the 1993 – 1995 time period, 54.8 percent of exits were associated with an increase in recipient earnings yet for the 2001 - 2003 time period, 34.1 percent were associated with increases in recipient earnings1.

Table IND 10a.
Percentage of Single Mother AFDC/TANF Spell Exits Associated with Specific Events:
Selected Periods

  Spell Ended
1993-1995
Spell Ended
1996-1999
Spell Ended
2001-2003
Note:  Welfare exits are defined as moving from receipt to non-receipt between two successive SIPP interviews (conducted 4 months apart); an event was associated with a welfare transition if the event was observed within two interviews (i.e., 8 months) of the interview marking the welfare exit.  In general, events are neither mutually exclusive nor exhaustive, and transition events may sum to more than 100 percent.  Two exceptions are that “Increase in other Household Earnings” was limited to cases when there were increases in household earnings without an increase in recipient earnings, and “Increase in Adults (not marriage)” was limited to cases where the adult joining the household was not marrying the head of the household.  While only affecting a small number of cases, General Assistance income is included within AFDC/TANF income. Other government benefits include Unemployment Insurance, Foster Care, Railroad Retirement, veterans payments and Workers Compensation.  An increase in earnings must be an increase of at least $50 per month.  A work limitation is defined as a condition that limits the kind or amount of work.  The category "None of above in Recent Past" represents the percentage of all spell beginnings during the period that were not associated with any of the events measured.

Spells of welfare receipt and associated events are measured using monthly data from the SIPP.  In the 2003 Indicators of Welfare Dependence volume (and earlier volumes), events associated with the beginning and ending of program spells were measured using annual data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID).  Thus, the estimates shown above are not comparable to estimates reported in volumes prior to 2004.

Events sum to more than 100 percent because the same household could experience more than one event associated with a specific welfare entry or exit.

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

Increase in own earnings 54.8 44.6 34.1
Increase in other household earnings 10.3 11.9 12.1
Became SSI recipient 1.6 5.9 5.2
Became recipient of other government benefits 2.2 2.6 3.0
Last child left or turned 19 5.6 2.4 1.5
Married 5.4 2.1 2.2
Increase in number of adults (not marriage) 17.6 12.4 12.8
Ended work limitation 3.0 10.9 9.0
Moved across state lines 2.4 1.4 2.8
None of above in recent past 24.0 31.1 37.4
  • Welfare exits associated with changes in household composition have also decreased over time.  For the 1993 – 1995 time period, 5.6 percent of welfare exits were related to the last child in a household leaving home or turning 19 years old as compared to 1.5 percent for the 2001 – 2003 time period.  Welfare exits associated with marriage also declined over the two time periods.  For the 1993 – 1995 time period, 5.4 percent of exits were related to marriage, for the 2001 – 2003 time period, the rate was 2.2 percent.
  • Thirty-seven (37.4) percent of welfare exits were not associated with any of the events listed above within the time period observed.

Figure IND 10b.
Events Associated with Single Mother TANF Entries during the 2001-2003 Period

Figure IND 10b

Note:  Welfare entries are defined as moving from non-receipt to receipt between two successive SIPP interviews (conducted 4 months apart); an event was associated with a welfare transition if the event was observed within two interviews (i.e., 8 months) of the interview marking the welfare entry.  In general, events are neither mutually exclusive nor exhaustive, and transition events may sum to more than 100 percent.  Two exceptions are that “Other Household Earnings Decreased” was limited to cases when there were decreases in household earnings without a decrease in recipient earnings, and “Decrease in Number of Adults (not divorce)” was limited to cases where the adult leaving the household was not married to the head of the household.  While only affecting a small number of cases, General Assistance income is included within AFDC/TANF income. Other government benefits include Unemployment Insurance, Foster Care, Railroad Retirement, veterans payments and Workers Compensation.  A decrease in earnings must be a decrease of at least $50 per month.  A work limitation is defined as a condition that limits the kind or amount of work.  The category "None of above in Recent Past" represents the percentage of all spell beginnings during the period that were not associated with any of the events measured.

Spells of welfare receipt and associated events are measured using monthly data from the SIPP.  In the 2003 Indicators of Welfare Dependence volume (and earlier volumes), events associated with the beginning and ending of program spells were measured using annual data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID).  Thus, the estimates shown above are not comparable to estimates reported in volumes prior to 2004.

Events sum to more than 100 percent because the same household could experience more than one event associated with a specific welfare entry or exit.

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


  • Figure IND 10b shows the events associated with the beginning of TANF spells among single mother recipients in the 2001 – 2003 time period. A decrease in earnings was the most common event associated with welfare entries.  For spells beginning between 2001 and 2003, 50.3 percent were associated with a decrease in the recipient’s earnings and 20.0 percent were associated with a decrease in the earnings of other household members.
  • Changes in household composition also were associated with the beginning of welfare spells.  Twenty (20.2) percent of welfare entries were associated with a new child joining the family while 4.2 percent of welfare entries were associated with divorce or separation.
  • Seventeen (16.9) percent of welfare entries were not associated with any of the events listed above within the time period observed.

Table IND 10b.
Percentage of Single Mother AFDC/TANF Spell Entries Associated with Specific Events:
Selected Periods

  Spell Began
1993-1995
Spell Began
1996-1999
Spell Began
2001-2003
Note:  Welfare entries are defined as moving from non-receipt to receipt between two successive SIPP interviews (conducted 4 months apart); an event was associated with a welfare transition if the event was observed within two interviews (i.e., 8 months) of the interview marking the welfare entry.  In general, events are neither mutually exclusive nor exhaustive, and transition events may sum to more than 100 percent.  Two exceptions are that “Other Household Earnings Decreased” was limited to cases when there were decreases in household earnings without a decrease in recipient earnings, and “Decrease in Number of Adults (not divorce)” was limited to cases where the adult leaving the household was not married to the head of the household.  While only affecting a small number of cases, General Assistance income is included within AFDC/TANF income. Other government benefits include Unemployment Insurance, Foster Care, Railroad Retirement, veterans payments and Workers Compensation.  A decrease in earnings must be a decrease of at least $50 per month.  A work limitation is defined as a condition that limits the kind or amount of work.  The category "None of above in Recent Past" represents the percentage of all spell beginnings during the period that were not associated with any of the events measured.

Spells of welfare receipt and associated events are measured using monthly data from the SIPP.  In the 2003 Indicators of Welfare Dependence volume (and earlier volumes), events associated with the beginning and ending of program spells were measured using annual data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID).  Thus, the estimates shown above are not comparable to estimates reported in volumes prior to 2004.

Events sum to more than 100 percent because the same household could experience more than one event associated with a specific welfare entry or exit.

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

Recipients’ earnings decreased 57.1 52.6 50.3
Other household earnings decreased 24.0 21.0 19.8
Lost SSI benefits (own) 1.4 5.1 4.5
Lost other government benefits (own) 8.1 5.1 6.1
New child in family 22.0 17.1 20.2
Divorced/separated from spouse 8.7 6.7 4.2
Decrease in number of adults (not divorce) 19.2 17.6 15.3
Onset of work limitation 7.2 10.9 11.6
Moved across state lines 1.7 1.4 2.1
None of above in recent past 8.8 14.1 16.9
  • Table IND 10b shows the events associated with the beginning of welfare spells among single mother recipients by selected time periods.
  • For the 1993-1995 time period, 57.1 percent of AFDC spell entries were associated with a decrease in recipient earnings.  The percentage was 50.3 percent for the 2001-2003 time period.
  • A decrease in other household members’ earnings also was related to the beginning of welfare spells.  For the 1993-1995 time period, 24.0 percent of welfare entries were associated with a decrease in other household members’ earnings.  For the 2001-2003 time period, 19.8 percent of welfare entries were associated with a decrease in other household members’ earnings.

1 The percentage point difference between the two time periods in exits associated with increases in earnings may be related to the larger share of the welfare caseload combining welfare and work.  Some recipients with welfare exits in more recent years may have experienced increases in earnings before the 5- to 8-month time period used to observe “associated” events.

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