Interim Status Report on Research on the Outcomes of Welfare Reform. Follow-up on the Wisconsin Project for Tracking Former Welfare Recipients

06/01/1999

ASPE expects to provide funding to the Institute for Research on Poverty at the University of Wisconsin­Madison as a follow-on to a recently completed administrative data study of former welfare recipients.  Early findings from the first year of the study, which address the outcomes of those who left welfare prior to both the enactment of TANF and the implementation of Wisconsin Works (also known as W-2, Wisconsin’s replacement for AFDC), show that almost half (47.8 percent) of AFDC recipients in 1995 left welfare for at least two consecutive months between August 1995 and July 1996, but 30 percent later returned.  About half of those who left had incomes greater than their foregone AFDC benefits and those who left AFDC were more likely to have incomes above the poverty level than those who stayed.  Those who left and did not return were less likely to be poor than those who returned; however, most families who left remained poor and only a small fraction had incomes above 150 percent of poverty.  This follow­up study will allow the Institute to track the outcomes for women in the first study further and to begin tracking the outcomes of a second group of women who left AFDC closer to the time of the implementation of Wisconsin Works.  As in the first year, the continuation analysis will be conducted using linked administrative data from the state of Wisconsin including:  (1) AFDC data, Food Stamp data, and Medicaid data from the Client Assistance for Re­Employment and Economic Support administrative database (CARES), and (2) earnings and employment data from the Unemployment Insurance records database (UI).  By documenting the employment outcomes of former recipients who were exposed to the comprehensive welfare reform programs in Wisconsin, this follow-up project will offer a useful analysis of the well­being of individuals who left welfare during a time of immense policy change.