Status Report on Research on the Outcomes of Welfare Reform, 2001. Conclusion


In sum, findings across the 15 studies showed that about three-fifths of leavers were working, generally 40 hours per week. Former recipients experienced intermittent spells of unemployment and financial hardship, however, and about one-fourth to one-third returned to welfare at least once in the first year after exit in most states studied. Although quarterly earnings rose over time, total household incomes remained fairly low, averaging about $1,400 or less per month. Access to health insurance and food stamps appeared problematic for some recipients, and there also were reports of food shortages and inability to get needed medical attention. Evidence was mixed as to whether material hardships were greater before or after exit; families generally reported that they are better off overall after leaving welfare.