Well-Being of Children in Working Poor and Other Families: 1997 and 2004: Research Brief. Endnotes


1 The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) of 1996 (H.R. 3734-9), Sec. 401, states that one of the purposes of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grants is to promote job preparation, work, and marriage. It also provides that recipients participate in work activities while receiving TANF benefits and requires that a beneficiary work after receiving benefits for 24 months.  It also provides (Section 411) that the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services transmit to Congress an annual report describing whether the States are meeting . . .  the objectives of increasing employment and earnings of needy families . . . .  Finally, Section 413 provides that the Secretary  may assist States in developing . . . innovative approaches for reducing welfare dependency and increasing the well-being of minor children living at home with respect to recipients of assistance under programs funded under this part.

2 For example, a 1998 review of research studies that predate welfare reform raised concerns about findings of negative outcomes for children in low-income families when employment is initiated during the first year of a childs life; and that child outcomes among employed mothers vary according to maternal wage level and that the quality of the home environment provided to young children can decline when mothers begin jobs that are low-wage and involve repetitive, unstimulating tasks.  See Zaslow, M., Tout, K., Zaslow, M. & Moore, K.A. (1998), Welfare Reform and Children: Potential Implications.  Washington, DC: The Urban Institute.

3 The percentage of children in working poor families as a percentage of children in all poor families increased from 37 percent in 1997 to 57 percent in 2004.  Thus, the working poor in 2004 probably include a sizable number of families who, in the absence of welfare reform, would have not made a substantial work effort.

4 For children in working families with incomes between 100 percent and 200 percent of the poverty threshold, eight of 15 measures increased, while the corresponding ratio for children in working families with incomes over 200 percent of the poverty threshold was nine of 15 measures.

5 Wertheimer, R., Long, M., & Jager, J.  2002.  Children in working poor families: update and extensions. Child Trends report to the Foundation for Child Development.

6 Multivariate analyses were restricted to well-being measures that couldnt have been observed prior to the year (2004) in which work and income were observed.  For example, a child could have been suspended or expelled from school in 2003 or even several years before 2004.  Thus, for a variable measured this way, it was not logically possible that the work and income of the family in 2004 affected the likelihood of a child being suspended or expelled unless the child was suspended or expelled in 2004.  In contrast, the survey asks about television rules in 2004  the same year that it asks about family work and income. Thus, this variable could be included in the multivariate analyses.

7 In nine of the 10 measures where the difference remained significant, the differences decreased somewhat; in the other case it increased.

8 Wertheimer, R., Jekielek, S., Moore, K.A., Redd, Z, & Wertheimer, R.F. (2005). Tradeoffs among work, family, health and well-being: a social-demographic perspective, in Raley (ed.), Work, Family, Health and Well-Being.  Mahway, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

About this Brief

Child Trends thanks the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, for its support of this Research Brief. The authors also thank Nicole Gardner, Don Oellerich, and Laura Radel for their careful review and helpful comments on this brief.

Child Trends is a nonprofit, nonpartisan research center that studies children at every stage of development. Its mission is to improve outcomes for children by providing research, data, and analysis to the people and institutions whose decisions and actions affect children. For additional information on Child Trends, including a complete set of available Research Briefs, visit our Web site at www.childtrends.org. For the latest information on more than 100 key indicators of child and youth well-being, visit the Child Trends DataBank at www.childtrendsdatabank.org. For summaries of over 300 experimental evaluations of social interventions for children, visit www.childtrends.org/LINKS.

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