Life after Welfare: The Economic Well-Being of Women and Children Following an Exit from AFDC
D. R. Meyer
Much previous research has focused on the length of welfare spells and returns to welfare following an exit. Few quantitative studies have looked at broader indicators of the economic well-being of those who have exited AFDC. In this paper we use data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NSLY) to trace welfare use, poverty status, and primary sources of income in the five years following an exit from welfare. We find that while there is a trend toward improved economic status over time, 40 percent of women remain poor five years after exit. Women with more advantaged family backgrounds, those with fewer children, or with more education at exit are more likely to consistently escape poverty. Median income increases over the first five years from about $10,500 to about $15,000 (1992 dollars). Own earnings are the most prevalent income source, followed by spouse's earnings, and mean-tested transfers.
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