Duration of Public Assistance Receipt: Is Welfare a Trap?
This paper uses data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth to answer two questions about the effects of the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program: (1) Does the length of time that one receives AFDC affect the likelihood of permanently leaving AFDC? (2) What personal and family characteristics are associated with the long-term receipt of AFDC? The answer to the first question is that the likelihood of permanently leaving AFDC decreases with the length of time that individuals receive benefits, after adjustments for other measured and unmeasured attributes of individuals and their families. The answer to the second question is that not having a high school diploma, never having married, having more than two children, and having little work experience are associated with long-term receipt. Many of the recipients who will reach the five-year limit imposed by the new federal legislation are in situations that make it difficult for them to support themselves and their families without public assistance.
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