Indicators of Welfare Dependence: Annual Report to Congress, 2008. INDICATOR 7. Program Spell Duration

12/20/2008

Figure IND 7.
Percentage of TANF, Food Stamp and SSI Spells for Persons Entering Programs during the 2001-2003 Period
by Length of Spell

Figure IND 7

Note:  Spell length categories are 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.  Program 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.

Source:  Unpublished tabulations from the Survey of Income and Program Participation, 2001 panel.


  • Figure IND 7 shows the percentage of TANF, food stamp, and SSI spells by spell length categories for persons entering programs in the early 2000s.  Between 2001 and 2003, spells lasting four months or less accounted for 49.6 percent of TANF spells, 35.9 percent of food stamp spells, and 27.9 percent of SSI spells.
  • Approximately three-fourths of all TANF spells (73.3 percent) and three-fifths of food stamp spells (60.3 percent) lasted one year or less compared to 49.3 percent of SSI spells.
  • Table IND 7a shows the percentage of program spells for persons entering programs during the 2001 – 2003 period by length of spell and demographic characteristics.  For TANF spells, a smaller percentage of Non-Hispanic White recipients (11.9 percent) had long spells lasting more than 20 months compared to Non-Hispanic Blacks (19.1 percent) and Hispanics (19.8 percent).
  • Table IND 7b shows how the percentage of program spells of varying lengths for persons entering programs during selected periods has changed.  Spells of welfare receipt were shorter in the early 2000s than in the early 1990s.  For instance, 16.8 percent of TANF
  • spells for persons entering TANF between 2001 and 2003 lasted 20 months or longer as compared to 34.4 percent of AFDC spells beginning between 1992 and 1994.

Table IND 7a.
Percentage of TANF, Food Stamp and SSI Spells for Persons Entering Programs during the 2001-2003 Period
by Length of Spell and Selected Characteristics

Program   Spells
<=4 Months
Spells
5-12 Months
Spells
13-20 Months
Spells
>20 Months
Note:  Spell length categories are 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.  Program 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.

TANF All Recipients 49.6 23.7 10.0 16.8
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
Children ages 0-5 50.0 24.0 11.9 14.1
Children ages 6-10 45.4 21.5 8.5 24.6
Children ages 11-15 43.7 25.3 12.4 18.6
Adults ages 16-64 52.9 24.2 8.4 14.4
Adults ages 65 and over NA NA NA NA
FOOD STAMPS All Recipients 35.9 24.4 8.9 30.7
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
Children ages 0-5 27.7 25.6 12.9 33.8
Children ages 6-10 28.6 27.4 10.7 33.3
Children ages 11-15 31.8 28.1 9.6 30.6
Adults ages 16-64 40.3 23.9 7.5 28.4
Adults ages 65 and over 30.0 12.5 9.6 48.0
SSI All Recipients 27.9 21.4 7.3 43.5
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
Children ages 0-10 NA NA NA NA
Children ages 11-15 31.2 18.8 3.9 46.1
Adults ages 16-64 29.4 20.9 7.2 42.5
Adults ages 65 and over 22.7 23.2 8.4 45.7

Table IND 7b.
Percentage of AFDC/TANF, Food Stamp, and SSI Spells for Persons Entering Programs
during Selected Periods by Length of Spell

Period Program Spells <=4
Months
Spells 5-12
Months
Spells 13-20
Months
Spells >20
Months
Note:  Spell length categories are 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.  Program spells are defined as those starting during the 2001 SIPP panel.

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

1992 – 1994 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 – 1995 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 – 1999 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 – 2003 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

 

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