Use of TANF Work-Oriented Sanctions in Illinois, New Jersey, and South Carolina. Which Recipients Are Most Likely to Be Sanctioned?

04/30/2004

Consistent with previous studies, we find that, based on several measures, TANF recipients who are sanctioned are more likely to have characteristics that are associated with longer welfare stays and lower rates of employment. All else equal, those who are younger, less educated, or have never been married are significantly more likely to experience an initial sanction-related grant reduction or to be fully sanctioned in Illinois and New Jersey than families without these characteristics (see Table III.2).(3) We also find that, controlling for other characteristics, African Americans are more likely to be sanctioned than other racial and ethnic groups, while Hispanics and other nonwhites (typically Asians) are the least likely to be sanctioned in these two states. For example, African Americans in Illinois have a 24 percent probability of receiving an initial sanction-related grant reduction, while whites have a 20 percent probability; Hispanics, 18 percent; and other nonwhites, only 12 percent.

In South Carolina, younger and less educated TANF recipients are also more likely to be fully sanctioned. Other factors do not appear to affect significantly the probability of a full-family sanction, but the low rate of sanctioning in South Carolina makes it harder to identify important differences between various groups.

Table III.2.
Probability of Being Sanctioned, Controlling for Other Characteristics
  Predicted Probability of Initial Partial Sanction Predicted Probability of Full Sanction
Illinois New Jersey Illinois New Jersey South Carolina
Overall 23 32 11 14 5
Age in Years
Younger than 20 28 38 13 18 7
20 to 24 24*** 35*** 11** 15*** 6
25 to 29 20*** 33*** 9*** 14*** 3***
30 to 39 16*** 31*** 7*** 13*** 1***
40 or older 11*** 25*** 6* 10*** <1***
Ethnicity/Race
Non-Hispanic, African American 24 36 11 16 5
Non-Hispanic, white 20*** 27*** 10** 10*** 4
Hispanic, any race 18*** 26*** 8*** 11*** 2
Other 12*** 21*** 5*** 7*** 2
Marital Status
Never married 24 33 11 14 5
Separated, divorced, widowed 21*** 28*** 9*** 11*** 5
Married 20*** 27*** 10 11*** 3
Education
Less than high school diploma/GED 26 35 13 15 6
High school diploma/GED 21*** 30*** 9*** 13*** 4***
More than high school diploma/GED 19*** 27*** 8*** 11*** 3***
Number of Children in TANF Case
1 24 32 10 14 4
2 23 32 11 13*** 4
3 23 32 11 13*** 5
4 or more 23 32 10 13* 5
Age of Youngest Child in TANF Case
Younger than 1 24 31 9 13 5
1 to 2 25** 30 12*** 13 4
3 to 5 23 33** 11*** 15*** 4
6 or older 21*** 33*** 11*** 14** 5
Duration of Current TANF Spell
Less than 6 months 22 32 8 13 4
6 to 11 months 26*** 33** 11*** 16*** 5
12 to 24 months 25*** 31 12*** 15*** 5
25 months or more 22 32 12*** 14*** 4
Sample Size = 33,478 in Illinois; 51,545 in New Jersey; 10,852 in South Carolina
Source: Analysis of state administrative data by Mathematica Policy Research, Inc.
Note: Tests of statistical significance reported here refer to the difference between the predicted probability for clients with the particular characteristic and the predicted probability for those in the reference category (indicated by italics) in each group. For example, for the characteristic "age," the reference category is "younger than 20," and all significance tests compare the predicted probability for those in a particular age category to the value for those who are younger than 20.
*/**/*** Difference between the predicted probability for clients with this characteristic and for those in the italicized reference category significant at the .10 level / .05 level /.01 level/

Additional factors that can significantly affect the probability of being sanctioned in Illinois or New Jersey are the number of children on the TANF case, the age of the youngest child, and the duration of the current TANF spell, although findings along these dimensions are not as consistent across the states or between types of sanctions (initial partial or full-family) as those previously discussed. For example, in Illinois, in comparison to recipients whose youngest child is under the age of one, recipients whose youngest child is between the ages of one and two are significantly more likely to be partially sanctioned, but recipients whose youngest child is six years or older are significantly less likely to be partially sanctioned. Recipients whose youngest child is younger than one are significantly less likely than families with older children to be fully sanctioned. In New Jersey, families whose youngest child is between the ages of three and five or six and older are significantly more likely to be partially or fully sanctioned than recipients whose youngest child is under the age of one. We do find that recipients whose recent TANF spell has lasted longer than six months are more likely to be fully sanctioned in both states. However, part of this effect could simply be attributable to the greater opportunity for sanctions over time.

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