For several analyses, we will present findings separately for sample members who were just starting a welfare spell around their time of sample intake (hereafter referred to as new recipients) and sample members who had been receiving benefits for some time before the sample intake period (hereafter referred to as ongoing recipients). More specifically, a new recipient is either (1) a sample member who received welfare during her month of sample intake and began her welfare spell no earlier than 3 months prior to sample intake; or (2) a sample member who received no payment during her month of sample intake but started a welfare spell within the next 1 or 2 months. (16) New recipients who entered the research sample during the same month of sample intake may be thought of as entry cohorts. (See Tables 4 and 12 and Figures 3 through 6 for results for this subgroup.) Ongoing recipients were receiving welfare during their month of sample intake and began their welfare spell at least four months prior to sample intake.
New recipients are of particular interest for the study of cycling because we can accurately measure the duration of their first spell on welfare. For this reason, the sample for testing the effects of PRWORA is comprised solely of new recipients. In contrast, some ongoing recipients have welfare spells that began before the data collection period for this report, and estimates of their total number of months on assistance are necessarily truncated. Still, ongoing recipients represent a large portion of the welfare caseload - between 55 percent and 66 percent of the sample members in each site. Their outcomes, when combined with those of new recipients, make the findings on welfare cycling more representative of the welfare recipients in the sites included in this study.