This report uses data from several evaluations of welfare-to-work programs to divide the caseload into three groups: leavers, stayers, and cyclers. The study finds that people who leave welfare and stay off long term differ in a range of expected ways from people who stay on welfare persistently. These leavers are more educated, for example, and t
There are several reasons to expect that the differences between stayers will differ by program. Programs with generous incentives should encourage people to stay on welfare who would have otherwise left, since they can now earn more and remain eligible for some benefits. Thus, stayers in these programs might be somewhat less disadvantaged than st
Table 11 presents data on income and material hardship for stayers in the program and control groups. Stayers in the program groups were somewhat less likely to be poor, and they were somewhat more likely to have been working at the time of the survey; 28.3 percent of program group stayers reported earnings in the prior month, compared with 21.2 p
Table 10 presents the demographic characteristics and barriers to employment of stayers in the program and control groups. Although the two groups of stayers look similar, a few differences suggest that program group stayers are slightly more disadvantaged than control group stayers.
Leavers, Stayers, and Cyclers An Analysis of the Welfare Caseload. How Have Welfare Programs Affected the Composition of the Caseload?
Not surprisingly, people who stay on welfare persistently are different from people who leave. As discussed earlier, stayers are more likely than leavers to face a range of potential barriers to work. In this sense, long-term stayers are the most disadvantaged segment of the caseload at a point in time. One question that has arisen in the wake of
The most direct way to assess how the caseload decline has affected families is to track the economic status of welfare leavers. This task has been the focus of a substantial amount of research over the past several years (Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, 2001; Cancian, Haveman, Meyer, and Wolfe, 2000; Brauner and Lop
For the analysis in this report, the samples in each program are restricted to people for whom data were available for at least 36 months but no more than 60 months after they were randomly assigned into a program. The evaluations have varying lengths of follow-up, and this restriction is imposed so that “staying on welfare” and “leaving wel
The data used in this report come from several programs that have been evaluated by MDRC. Each of the programs was evaluated using a random assignment design, in which ongoing recipients or new applicants to welfare were assigned to either an experimental group that received the new treatment or a control group that was subject to the existing wel
For the pooled sample, nonworking leavers are more disadvantaged than working leavers, in terms of demographic characteristics and barriers to employment. But they do not appear to be significantly worse off in terms of income and hardship, owing partly to the fact that they were more likely to have returned to welfare by the time of the survey. H
Table 9 presents data on income and material hardship. Despite some of the large differences in demographic characteristics, the two groups of leavers had similar incomes at the time of the survey, although nonworkers had a slightly higher poverty rate. Nonworkers appear to have made up for the lack of earnings with other income sources.
Table 8 presents demographic characteristics and employment barriers for working and nonworking welfare leavers. A glance through the differences shows that nonworkers are, not surprisingly, more disadvantaged than workers; 55.0 percent of nonworkers do not have a high school diploma, compared with only 40.9 percent of workers.
The results so far show that the average welfare leaver faced fewer barriers to employment than the average stayer and, as of the follow-up survey, had somewhat higher income. But what about leavers who are not “average”? Focusing on the average may mask the fact that many people who leave welfare do not fare well. The previous section showed,
Looking across Figures 1A, 1B, and 1C, there are several instances where the results for FTP seem to stand out. Leavers in FTP were younger than stayers (in contrast to each of the other programs), and they were much more likely to have completed high school (a difference that was the largest among the programs). Yet the leavers and the stayers di
The results for the pooled sample show that leavers are less disadvantaged than stayers, which is consistent with other research. Leavers are more educated, face fewer barriers to work, and have somewhat higher incomes. All the leavers left welfare as part of a welfare-to-work program, but some left under a program with financial incentives, and o
Table 4 uses the survey samples to present data on family income and material hardship, measured at the time of the follow-up surveys. The top panel presents income and poverty in the month before the survey and household composition at the time of the survey. The bottompanel presents several measures of material hardship, experienced either durin
Table 3 presents characteristics of the three groups for the pooled sample. The top panel presents several demographic characteristics, and the bottom panel presents data relating to employment prospects. The first three columns present data for the three groups, and the last two columns show the differences between the groups. Differences that ar