Iowa's Limited Benefit Plan. A. Household Size and Composition


One might expect the termination of welfare benefits to lead to changes in household composition, particularly in the form of families moving in with relatives or parents sending their children to live with relatives. The data obtained in the LBP Survey, however, provide little evidence of this during the FIP ineligibility period.

As shown in Table V.1, the average number of household members in the month prior to benefit termination was approximately four. The most common household size (31 percent of households) was three persons. However, large households were also quite common. Approximately 15 percent of households had five members, and another 16 percent had six or more members.

Nearly all of the households (98 percent) included one or more of the survey respondent's children. The average number of children was two. Approximately 89 percent of the households contained one to three of the respondent's children. In one-third of the households, at least one child of the respondent under the age of 3 years was present, and in just over one-half of the households at least one child of the respondent between the ages of 3 and 5 years was present. As shown in Table V.2, approximately 32 percent of the respondents lived with a spouse or partner in the month before benefit termination, and 12 percent lived with their parent(s) in that month.

Table V.1

Table V.2 also shows that there was relatively little change in the composition of LBP households between the last month of cash assistance (month 6) and the interview month. There is little to no evidence that respondents were separated from their children or that they moved in with their parents or other relatives following the termination of cash assistance.(1) We do, however, observe a small increase in the proportion of respondents living with a spouse.

Consistent with the lack of change in household composition, there was relatively little change in the size of households following benefit termination. As shown in Table V.3, approximately two-thirds of the respondents reported no change in household size, and nearly nine of ten reported no change in the number of children. Where household size did change, it more often became larger rather than smaller. The most common change was an increase of one person, which occurred in 12 percent of surveyed households.