Public Assistance Use Among Two-Parent Families: An Analysis of TANF and Food Stamp Program Eligibility and Participation - Research Brief. FSP and TANF caseloads have declined over time, for married- and single-parent families


Due in part to sweeping welfare reforms and a strong economy, TANF caseloads fell by just over half between 1996 and 2000, and FSP caseloads by over one-third. TANF declines were similar among both single and married parents, with FSP declines more prevalent among married parents. Caseload declines reflect a combination of reductions in the number of low-income families, the rate at which those families are eligible and the rate at which eligible families participate. For example, the first row of the table below shows that the TANF caseload for married parents fell by 276 thousand families — just over half. Nearly all of this decrease (92 percent) was due to a drop in participation rates among eligible married-parent families. A decrease in the number of low-income married-parent families also was a factor, explaining 20 percent of the caseload decline. Eligibility rates among low-income married parents actually increased over the period, hence explaining -12 percent of the caseload decline (i.e. this would have caused caseloads to rise in absence of any other changes.) The relative importance of these factors differed for married- and single-parent families.

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