Studies of Welfare Populations: Data Collection and Research Issues. Appendix A

06/01/2002

DESCRIPTION OF LEAVERS AND OUTCOMES ACROSS DIFFERENT DEFINITIONS OF LEAVERS

In this appendix, the definition of a leaver is modified to see how sensitive the composition and outcomes of leavers are to the definition used in the paper. Specifically, the requirement that a leaver must have stopped receiving AFDC for 2 consecutive months to be considered a leaver is made more restrictive. We try two additional definitions; first, that a leaver must have discontinued receiving benefits for 3 consecutive months to be considered a leaver, and second, that a leaver must have discontinued receiving benefits for 6 consecutive months to be considered a leaver. These definitions were operationalized as follows:

All cases received AFDC in July 1995. Leavers under the 2-month definition stopped receiving AFDC for 2 consecutive months between August 1995 and July 1996. (June 1996 was the last month a case may have received AFDC and still be considered a leaver if the case did not receive welfare in July and August of 1996.) Leavers under the 3-month definition stopped receiving AFDC for 3 consecutive months between August 1995 and July 1996. (June 1996 was the last month a case may have received AFDC and still be considered a leaver if the case did not receive welfare in July, August, and September of 1996.) Leavers under the 6-month definition stopped receiving AFDC for 6 consecutive months between August 1995 and July 1996. (June 1996 was the last month a case may have received AFDC and still be considered a leaver if the case did not receive welfare in July through December 1996.)

Using these definitions, Table 13-A1 shows how the composition of the leaver and stayer groups vary across the three definitions. Table 13-A2 shows how some key outcomes of leavers vary across the different definitions. A brief summary of these two tables is reported here.

TABLE 13-A1
Characteristics of Welfare Leavers Under Different Definitions of "Leaver"
Characteristic Leaver = 2 Months off Leaver = 3 Months off Leaver = 6 Months off
Leaver Stayer Leaver Stayer Leaver Stayer
Total number 23,207 25,009 21,742 26,474 19,796 28,420
percent of sample 48.1 51.9 45.1 54.9 41.1 58.9
Race/ethnicity
% black 32.2 48.1 31.7 52.2 29.7 52.2
% Hispanic 6.4 7.1 6.5 7.1 6.4 7.1
% white 61.4 44.8 61.8 40.7 63.9 41.7
Age of case head
% <26 37.1 35.5 37.1 35.6 37.1 35.7
% 27-31 25.2 23.7 25.1 23.8 25.1 23.9
% 32-41 30.9 32.2 30.8 32.2 30.8 32.1
% 42+ 6.8 8.6 6.9 8.4 7.0 8.2
Education of case head
% less than high school 36.1 50.2 35.4 50.0 34.4 49.7
% high school diploma 45.3 37.7 45.6 37.9 46.0 38.2
% some college 18.6 12.1 19.0 12.1 19.6 12.2
County of residence
Milwaukee County 42.4 65.3 40.7 65.4 38.7 65.1
Other urban county 35.6 24.1 36.5 23.9 37.6 24.0
Rural 22.0 10.6 22.7 10.6 23.6 10.8
Percent with child on SSI 8.1 13.1 7.9 13.0 7.6 12.9
Age of youngest child
% 0 to 1 years 27.1 29.2 27.2 28.9 27.4 28.7
% 2 to 4 years 31.4 31.0 31.2 31.2 31.1 31.3
% 5 to 11 years 29.7 29.9 29.6 30.0 29.4 30.0
% 12 or older 11.8 9.9 12.0 9.9 12.1 9.9
Welfare History (7/89 to 7/95)  
% short-termer 39.1 23.1 40.0 23.2 41.2 23.6
% long-termer 42.9 66.7 41.9 66.3 40.7 65.4
% cycler 18.2 10.2 18.1 10.5 18.1 11.0
Percent of time on welfare (7/89 to 7/95)
0 <= x <25% of time 23.5 11.3 24.3 11.3 25.3 11.5
25 <= x <50% of time 20.4 14.3 20.7 14.3 21.1 14.5
50 <= x <100% of time 43.7 45.4 43.2 45.7 42.3 46.2
Always on 12.4 29.0 11.8 28.6 11.3 27.8
Mean AFDC spell length 7/89 to 7/95 (in months) 27.5
(23.2)
41.2
(25.2)
26.9
(23.0)
40.9
(25.2)
26.3
(22.8)
40.4
(25.2)
% of quarters with earnings (1/89 to 7/95)
Never worked 14.0 25.1 14.2 24.3 14.4 23.5
0 < x <= 25% 30.0 37.6 29.6 37.5 29.3 37.2
25 < x <= 50% 28.0 23.1 27.9 23.4 27.7 23.9
50 < x <= 75% 17.7 10.6 17.9 10.8 18.2 11.2
More than 75% of quarters 10.3 3.6 10.3 3.9 10.5 4.2
TABLE 13-A2
Outcomes of Welfare Leavers Under Different Definitions of "Leaver"
Characteristic Leaver = 2 Mos. off Leaver = 3 Mos. off Leaver = 6 Mos. off
Leaver Stayer Leaver Stayer Leaver Stayer
Total number 23,207 25,009 21,742 26,474 19,796 28,420
percent of sample 48.1 51.9 45.1 54.9 41.1 58.9
# returned to AFDC 6,753   4,831   2753  
percent returned to AFDC 29.1 N/A 22.2 N/A 13.9 N/A
Average earnings over 4 quarters after leaving(a) 1,642.1
(1,628.3)
786.1
(1,124.6)
1,677.7
(1,658.5)
804.2
(1,127.8)
1,733.2
(1,686.0)
825.4
(1,136.4)
Median earnings over 4 quarters after leaving(a) 1,311.0 199.0 1,371.9 226.5 1,459.9 259.8
Average income from earnings, AFDC, food stamps, over 4 quarters after leaving(a) 2,193.6
(1,556.3)
2,301.5
(1,128.1)
1,980.1
(1,636.9)
2,304.3
(1,125.9)
1,956.0
(1,673.3)
2,298.9
(1,129.8)
Median income over 4 quarters after leaving(a) 1,864.0 2,184.6 1,817.1 2,189.1 1,761.6 2,180.3
Number of quarters with earnings after exit(b)
% did not work 22.8 33.8 22.6 28.9 21.8 28.0
% worked 1-3 quarters 22.4 32.5 24.3 37.2 23.6 37.0
% worked 4+ quarters 54.7 37.7 53.1 33.9 54.6 35.0
Note: Standard deviations reported in parentheses.
a Does not include disappearers.
b Please note that one more quarter postexit is observed under the 2- and 3- month definitions than under the 6-month definition. The latest quarter a 2- or 3- month leaver could have exited would be third quarter 1996, whereas the latest quarter a 6-month leaver could have exited is fourth quarter 1996.

With a more restrictive definition of a leaver, a smaller portion of the caseload, not surprisingly, qualifies as a leaver. With the 3-month definition, 45.1 percent are leavers compared to 48.1 percent for the 2-month definition. For the 6-month definition, only 41.1 percent are classified as leavers. The characteristics of leavers under the more restrictive definition change only slightly. There are few differences in the characteristics of 2-month leavers and 3-month leavers. The differences are very small across all the demographic and past work and welfare receipt history variables. There are small differences in the demographic composition of 6-month leavers and 2-month leavers. A higher proportion (2.5 percentage points) of 6-month leavers are white than 2-month leavers. Six-month leavers are slightly less likely to come from Milwaukee County than 2-month leavers (38.7 percent compared to 42.4 percent). Six-month leavers are slightly more likely to be short-termers than 2-month leavers (41.2 percent compared to 39.1 percent) and slightly less likely to be long-termers (40.7 percent compared to 42.9 percent). Six-month leavers have, in general, spent a little less time on welfare prior to the exit period than 2-month leavers. This is as expected, because the group of 6-month leavers is probably composed of cases that are more self-sufficient than the group of 2-month leavers. There are only negligible differences in the work histories of 2-month, 3-month, and 6-month leavers.

As expected, 6-month leavers have better outcomes than 3-month and 2-month leavers. Only 13.9 percent of 6-month leavers returned to AFDC, compared to 22.2 percent of 3-month leavers and 29.1 percent of 2-month leavers. The mean and median earnings in the first year after exit of 6-month leavers are higher than those of 3-month and 2-month leavers. The mean and median earnings in the first year after exit for 6-month leavers are $1,733 and $1,460. For 3-month leavers, the mean and median are $1,678 and $1,372. For 2-month leavers, the mean and median are $1,642 and $1,311. Somewhat surprisingly, 6-month leavers did not work much more than 2-month leavers. However, one less quarter after exit is observed for 6-month leavers than for 2-month leavers, so little emphasis is put on this result.

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