Leavers, Stayers, and Cyclers An Analysis of the Welfare Caseload. How Have Welfare Programs Affected the Composition of the Caseload?

11/01/2002

Not surprisingly, people who stay on welfare persistently are different from people who leave. As discussed earlier, stayers are more likely than leavers to face a range of potential barriers to work. In this sense, long-term stayers are the most disadvantaged segment of the caseload at a point in time. One question that has arisen in the wake of welfare reform is whether the caseload has changed in recent years. As welfare reform has pushed more and more families off the rolls, has the remaining caseload become even more disadvantaged and hard to employ? 
 
Figure 2A
Working and Nonworking Leavers, by Program:
Demographic Characteristics
 
Percent younger than 25
 
Percent younger than 25
 
Percent completed high school
 
Percent completed high school
Percent black
 
Percent black
 
 Percent with two or more children
 
Percent with two or more children
 
SOURCE:   MDRC calculations from administrative records and Baseline Information forms from the evaluations listed in Table 1.
NOTES:  The analysis is restricted to the individuals in the Program Group.
 
Figure 2B
Working and Nonworking Leavers, by Program:
Barriers to Employment
 
 Percent with problems arranging child care
 
Percent with problems arranging child care
Percent with transportation problems 
 
Percent with transportation problems
 
Percent who did not work in year prior to random assignment
 
Percent who did not work in year prior to random assignment
 
Percent with four or more barriers to employment
 
Percent with four or more barriers to employment
 
SOURCE:   MDRC calculations from administrative records and Private Opinion Surveys from the evaluations listed in Table 1.
NOTES:  The analysis is restricted to the individuals in the Program Group.
 
Figure 2C
Working and Nonworking Leavers, by Program:
Household Income and Material Hardship
 
Income in month before survey
 
Income in month before survey
 
Percent below poverty in month before survey 
 
Percent below poverty in month before survey
 
Number of Hardships
 
Number of Hardships
 
Percent with Food Insufficiency
 
Percent with Food Insufficiency
 
SOURCE:  MDRC calculations from survey data from the evaluations listed in Table 1.  
NOTES:  This analysis is restricted to the individuals in the Program Group.
 
Although this report cannot address this question directly, the effects of welfare reform can be inferred by taking advantage of the experimental data from each evaluation. Stayers in the control group in each program give a picture of what the caseload would have looked like in the absence of welfare-to-work programs, since these recipients were subject to the traditional AFDC system in their state. Comparing them with stayers in the program groups—or those who were subject to the welfare-to-work program being tested—provides an estimate of how the new program affected the composition of the caseload. Note that this comparison is nonexperimental, because it is restricted to only a subset of the program and control groups. 

 

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