Leavers, Stayers, and Cyclers An Analysis of the Welfare Caseload. Time Limits

11/01/2002

Looking across Figures 1A, 1B, and 1C, there are several instances where the results for FTP seem to stand out. Leavers in FTP were younger than stayers (in contrast to each of the other programs), and they were much more likely to have completed high school (a difference that was the largest among the programs). Yet the leavers and the stayers did not differ much in terms of employment barriers (in contrast to most other programs). In some ways, then, leavers look more employable than stayers, but, in other ways, they do not. This pattern suggests that it might be interesting to divide leavers in FTP into those who left welfare because of reaching the time limit (a group that is likely to be relatively disadvantaged) and those who left welfare before reaching the time limit (a group that may look more like the typical leaver in the other programs). Although the Jobs First time-limit policy differed in important ways from FTP’s, similar data are also presented for Jobs First.

Tables 5 and 6 present the results. This distinction between time-limit and non-time-limit leavers seems to matter the most in FTP. Time-limit leavers in FTP are less educated and have more children than non-time-limit leavers, for example, and a higher fraction of them are black. Although time-limit leavers are less likely to report barriers to work in terms of child care, transportation, and health or emotional problems, they are much less likely than the other two groups to have worked prior to random assignment. They are also more likely than both stayers and non-time-limit leavers to have four or more barriers to work (56.9 percent for time-limit leavers, versus 46.5 percent for non-time-limit leavers and 50.0 percent for stayers).

The results are similar for Jobs First but are not as pronounced or consistent. Although a higher fraction of time-limit leavers are black and living in public housing, for example, they are just as likely as non-time-limit leavers to have completed high school and are more likely to have worked in the year prior to random assignment. Thus, the more employable recipients appear to have left because of a time limit in Jobs First. This finding makes sense given the extension policy, in which recipients who reached the limit without sufficiently high earnings were typically granted extensions. Few extensions were granted in FTP.

Table 5
Stayers, Time Limit Leavers, and Non-Time Limit Leavers (FTP and Jobs First):
Demographic Characteristics and Barriers to Employment
 
Characteristics FTP Jobs First
Non-Time Limit Time Limit Non-Time Limit Time Limit
Stayers Leavers Leavers Stayers Leavers Leavers
Demographics
Age (%)
Younger than 25 14.0 29.4 33.3 37.3 26.0 20.6
25-35 51.2 48.5 33.3 38.7 40.8 51.0
Older than 35 34.9 22.1 33.3 24.0 33.2 28.4
Education (%)
Less than 12 years 62.8 46.6 57.5 45.1 40.0 41.6
High school graduate 37.2 53.4 42.5 54.9 60.0 58.4
Number of children (%)
None or one 25.6 41.3 30.1 39.4 48.5 41.4
Two or more 74.4 58.7 69.9 60.6 51.5 58.6
Age of youngest child (%)
Younger than 6 61.9 70.1 72.2 72.4 63.5 61.6
15 or older 0.0 4.3 2.8 1.7 7.5 3.0
Race / Ethnicity (%)
Black 69.8 49.3 67.1 47.9 30.2 38.9
Hispanic 2.3 2.3 1.4 24.2 28.3 22.1
White 27.9 48.4 31.5 27.9 41.5 38.9
Marital status (%)
Never married 57.1 49.9 55.6 72.0 48.3 62.0
Other 42.9 50.1 44.4 28.0 51.7 38.0
Housing status (%)            
Public or subsidized 44.2 24.2 46.6 38.1 26.3 46.0
Private or other 55.8 75.8 53.4 61.9 73.7 54.0
Employment
Could not work at random
assignment due to:
Child care problems 38.7 40.6 31.3  
Transportation problems 55.6 44.9 34.4  
Health or emotional problems 35.5 21.6 12.5  
Did not work in year prior to random assignment
55.8 54.2 65.3 50.5 52.0 40.2
Number of Potential Barriers to Employment
0 or 1 6.7 13.9 10.3      
2 or 3 43.3 39.6 32.8      
4 13.3 19.2 31.0      
5 or more 36.7 27.3 25.9      
Sample size 43 439 75 204 223 102
 
SOURCE:   MDRC calculations from administrative records, Baseline Information Forms and Private Opinion Surveys 
from FTP and Jobs First.
NOTES:  The analysis is restricted to the individuals in the Program Group.
 
Table 6
Stayers, Time Limit Leavers, and 
Non-Time Limit Leavers (FTP):
Household Income and Material Hardship
 
Characteristics FTP
Non-Time Limit Time Limit
Stayers Leavers Leavers
Income and Poverty in the Month Before the Survey
Total Income ($) 1.141 1.431 1.172
Poverty status (%)
Income below poverty
75.0 51.6 80.0
Income below 50% of poverty
25.0 24.1 33.8
Household income sources (%)
AFDC/TANF 55.6 7.7 3.1
Food Stamps 83.3 32.4 73.8
Child support 13.9 30.1 46.2
Other income 72.2 25.8 38.5
Respondent's earnings 16.7 64.2 46.2
Other household earnings 2.8 24.6 9.2
Household composition (%)
Currently married 5.6 20.9 3.1
Not married, but other adults in household 27.8 37.9 42.2
Material Hardship 
Material hardship in prior year (%)
Did not pay full amount of 
rent/mortgage
27.8 33.1 35.9
Evicted for not payin
rent/mortgage
2.8 5.5 4.6
Did not pay full amount 
for utilities
22.2 33.7 30.8
Utilities shut off 5.6 14.7 13.8
Telephone shut off 38.9 34.0 40.0
Could not see doctor 8.3 25.4 20.3
Could not see dentist 33.3 37.2 25.0
Number of hardships 1.4 1.8 1.7
Food insufficient  in prior month (%) 20.0 13.6 10.8
Sample size 36 349 65
 
SOURCE:  MDRC calculations from survey data from FTP.     
NOTES:  This analysis is restricted to the individuals in the Program Group.
 
 
Table 6 presents income and material hardship data for FTP. (These results should be interpreted with some caution, given the small sample sizes. Data for Jobs First are not presented because the sample is too small.) Time-limit leavers have lower incomes and higher poverty rates than other leavers, but they are not much worse off than stayers. Thus, they appear to have partially made up for the loss in welfare benefits with other sources of income. For example, 73.8 percent of time-limit leavers received Food Stamps, and 46.0 percent received child support income. The data on household composition suggest that time-limit leavers may have also moved in with other adults after losing benefits; 42.2 percent of them were living with other nonspouse adults. 
 
Despite having lower incomes, time-limit leavers report similar levels of material hard-ship as other leavers, and they are less likely to be food-insufficient. Nonetheless, the data on poverty rates suggest that some time-limit leavers are not faring well; 33.8 percent of them had incomes below 50.0 percent of the poverty line, compared with 24.1 percent for other leavers. Again, the results should be interpreted with some caution, given the small sample sizes. 

 

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