Status of Research on the Outcomes of Welfare Reform, 2000. Research Grants on Welfare Outcomes (1999)


Current status: ASPE awarded approximately $807,000 in grants in FY 1999 to support seven researcher-initiated proposals to study important questions related to the outcomes of welfare reform. Through these grants, we are supporting efforts to analyze a variety of information about low-income individuals (both adults and children) and their families, including their economic and non-economic well-being and their participation in government programs. Issues that are being examined under these grants include caseload dynamics, the impact of spatial distribution of economic opportunities, health insurance and health care utilization, the use of food stamps, living arrangements, maternal and child health, domestic violence, and quality-of-life issues. A brief description of each funded proposal follows. When available, final reports from the grantees will be posted on the ASPE website at

RAND Corporation

This study will analytically and empirically explore the relationship between economic conditions, the flows on and off the caseload, and the welfare caseload at a point in time (stock) in California. The study will address the following questions:

  • What is the relationship between economic conditions and the flows on and off aid in California?
  • How do these relationships vary by sub-populations?
  • How have these changes in flows contributed to changes in the stock of welfare users?
  • Under what conditions does modeling the relationship between economic conditions and the stock of welfare users rather than the flow of welfare users give biased conclusions?
  • What is the magnitude of the bias for California and the United States when using stock rather than flow data?

Estimated Completion Date: Fall 2000

Resources for Human Development, Inc.

Resources for Human Development, Inc. (RHD) is a large community agency in Philadelphia that operates six Welfare-to-Work (WtW) programs. The goals of the study are to:

  • Assess what support factors are associated with WtW program success and failure;
  • Identify those quality-of-life indicators that are associated with stable employment;
  • Document the extent to which the quality of life for former TANF recipients and families is equal to or better than that which they experienced while on welfare; and
  • Document the effects of alcohol and substance abuse on WtW program outcomes.

    Surveys will be administered to program participants at entry and exit and at three months after leaving the program. A separate group of 100 WtW participants self-identified as in need of substance abuse treatment will be compared to a group of 200 participants not so self-identified to examine differences in program attendance rates and outcomes.

Estimated Completion Date: Fall 2000

SPHERE Institute

This study will build upon research the SPHERE Institute is currently conducting under contract

with the Public Policy Institute of California to model caseload dynamics using aggregate county caseload counts. It will explore the role of economic conditions and caseload characteristics on the role of program performance in California. Estimates of the effect on caseloads in the event of an economic downturn will be produced. Other issues that will be analyzed are:

  • Trends in the child-only caseload;
  • The uptake of transitional Medicaid for families exiting TANF;
  • The extent to which certain subgroups experience different rates of TANF entry and exit; and
  • How performance-based program incentives could be improved by adjusting for economic and demographic conditions.

Estimated Completion Date: March 2001

University of Kentucky Research Foundation

The goal of this study is to examine the impact of the differential spatial distribution of economic opportunities on the outcomes of current and former AFDC/TANF recipients, including employment and earnings. It will examine both the outcomes of well-being in relation to poverty and participation in associated support programs and the impact of these differential outcomes on the characteristics and composition of the remaining caseload. Differences in outcomes between rural and urban recipients and variations in findings across the diversity of rural areas in the state will be investigated.

Estimated Completion Date: March 2001

University of Michigan School of Social Work

This project will use data from the Women's Employment Survey (WES) to examine the impacts of welfare reform on economic outcomes as well as on measures of non-economic well-being among specific subgroups of recipients, such as racial minorities and women exposed to domestic violence. WES is a longitudinal data set tracking single mother welfare recipients in an urban Michigan county. Specifically, the project will look at the following issues:

  • How welfare reform has affected work, wages, income and poverty among recipients with potential barriers to success, such as low levels of education, large families, and physical and mental health problems;
  • How transitions from welfare-to-work and income trajectories have affected maternal and child health; and
  • How welfare reform affected women who have experienced domestic violence.

Estimated Completion Date: January 2001

University of Wisconsin

This study focuses on the use of Medicaid and food stamp recipiency, and examines some determinants of private health insurance coverage for families who have left AFDC/TANF. Using administrative data and wage record files, the study will examine the apparent eligibility for and uptake of Medicaid, food stamps and, to the extent possible, private health insurance, among two samples of program participants - those who were receiving AFDC during

September 1995, and those who were receiving Wisconsin Works (W-2) during September 1997. Longitudinal use of Medicaid and food stamps through December 1999 will be examined for three groups (leavers, recidivists, and stayers) across a variety of variables. A second component of the study will examine Medicaid and food stamp usage among families in the Wisconsin Child Support Demonstration Experiment, using both administrative data and survey data collected as part of the demonstration.

Estimated Completion Date: June 2001

The Urban Institute

This study aims to examine the inter-relationship between single mothers' decisions regarding welfare receipt, living arrangements, and work. The project will:

  • Document the share of single mothers living independently, living with their parents, cohabiting, and living with other adults;
  • Describe how the characteristics of single mothers vary by their living arrangements;
  • Show how single mothers' work and welfare participation (both past and present) vary by their living arrangements; and
  • Undertake a multivariate analysis to examine the factors affecting single mothers' living arrangements and how living arrangements affect decisions regarding work and welfare.

Estimated Completion Date: January 2001