Use of TANF Work-Oriented Sanctions in Illinois, New Jersey, and South Carolina. Who Is Sanctioned?


We find that the demographic characteristics associated with sanctioning are those that, in previous research, have been associated with longer welfare stays and lower rates of employment. These findings are consistent with other studies that compare the demographic characteristics of families that have ever been sanctioned with those that have never been sanctioned. All else equal, those who are younger, less educated, never married and African American more likely to be sanctioned than recipients without the same characteristics.

We also find that families that experience one or more personal, family, or logistical challenges are more likely to be sanctioned than families that do not experience any of these challenges. These findings confirm what many case managers report and many program administrators and advocates have long suspected. Challenges that significantly increase the likelihood of receiving sanctions include limited recent work experience, the existence of a physical or mental health problem, several arrests, and child care problems. In most cases, the presence of one of these challenges increases by one-half to two-thirds the probability of being sanctioned. The effect is much greater when several barriers are present; the probability of being sanctioned when four or more liabilities are present is twice as high as the probability of being sanctioned when any one barrier is present.

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