Performance Improvement 2005. Review of Sanction Policies and Research Studies


This report summarizes state policies regarding TANF sanctions for failure to comply with work requirements. 17 states have immediate full-family sanctions, 18 states impose graduated sanctions resulting in full-family sanctions, and 15 impose only partial sanctions. (One state has adopted a pay for performance model.) In addition, the report reviews the existing literature on sanctioning rates, characteristics and circumstances of sanctioned clients, and the impacts of TANF sanctions. There have been no rigorous studies of the impact of partial vs. full-family sanctions. This would require a well- designed random assignment experiment. There is some suggestive evidence of their impact, however, from studies that use the existing variation in State sanction policies to assess the impact of sanction policies. There is considerable variation across States (and within them) in how well participation requirements and the consequences of noncompliance are explained. A few studies suggest that more stringent sanctions lead to greater welfare exits and caseload declines, although most offer little insight into how these changes occur. The purpose of sanctions in most States is to encourage compliance with work requirements, not to penalize low-income families that fail to comply. Research from several studies suggests that about one-third to three-fifths of sanctioned recipient come into compliance after being sanctioned.

PIC ID: 8102; Agency Sponsor: ASPE-OHSP, Office of Human Services Policy; Federal Contact: Lower-Basch, Elizabeth, 202-690-6808; Performer: Mathematica Policy Research, Inc., Princeton, NJ


View full report


"pi_2005.pdf" (pdf, 750.85Kb)

Note: Documents in PDF format require the Adobe Acrobat Reader®. If you experience problems with PDF documents, please download the latest version of the Reader®