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Comparing the New (TANF) with the Old (AFDC) - Length Of Time On Welfare

percent families assistance children

A number of studies have investigated the length of time AFDC recipients received assistance. While most

TABLE 7.10
Trends in characteristics of those who receive Aid to Families with Dependent Children/Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, fiscal year 1992–fiscal year 2001

FY 1992 FY 1994 FY 1996 FY 1998 FY 1999 FY 2000 FY 2001
Families
Total 4,769,000 5,046,000 4,553,000 3,176,000 2,648,000 2,269,000 2,121,000
Child-only cases 707,000 869,000 978,000 743,000 770,000 782,000 787,000
Percent 14.8 17.2 21.5 23.4 29.1 34.5 37.2
Race (percent of all families)
White 38.9 37.4 35.9 32.7 30.5 31.2 30.1
African-American 37.2 36.4 36.9 39.0 38.3 38.6 39.0
Hispanic 17.8 19.9 20.8 22.2 24.5 25.0** 26.0**
Asian 2.8 2.9 3.0 3.4 3.6 2.2 2.1
Native American 1.4 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.5 1.6 1.3
Other 0.6 0.6 0.6 0.8
Unknown 2.0 2.1 2.0 0.7 1.0 0.8 0.7
Adults
Age distribution (percent of all adults)
Under 20 7.1 5.9 5.8 6.1 6.2 7.1 7.4
20–29 45.9 44.1 42.3 41.4 39.7 42.5 42.4
30–39 33.3 34.8 35.2 33.8 33.8 32.1 31.2
Over 39 13.6 15.2 16.5 18.6 20.2 18.3 19.0
Average age 29.9 30.5 30.8 31.4 31.8 31.3 31.3
Employment rate 6.6 8.3 11.3 22.8 27.6 26.4 26.7
Children
Age of youngest (percent of all families)
Unborn 2.0 1.8 1.5 N/A N/A 0.6 0.5
0–1 10.3 10.8 10.4 11.0 11.7 13.3 13.6
1–2 29.7 28.1 24.3 22.0 20.6 19.9 20.2
3–5 21.2 21.6 23.5 23.1 21.9 20.6 19.4
6–11 23.1 22.7 24.4 26.6 27.5 27.8 27.6
12–15 9.3 9.8 10.6 10.7 11.5 11.7 12.8
16 and older 3.5 3.5 3.8 4.7 5.0 5.1 5.0
Unknown 0.8 1.7 1.5 1.8 1.8 1.0 0.9
White 33.9 33.0 31.6 28.3 25.8 26.8 25.6
African-American 38.5 37.9 38.4 40.2 39.5 40.1 40.8
Hispanic 18.7 21.2 22.4 23.4 26.0 26.8** 27.8**
Asian 3.9 3.6 3.8 4.2 4.6 2.8 2.7
Native American 1.6 1.4 1.4 1.5 1.7 1.6 1.2
Other 0.7 0.8 0.6 0.5
Unknown 3.4 2.9 2.4 1.8 1.6 1.3 1.4
Notes: 'N/A' = Not Available.
'**' = Can be of any race.
Columns may not add to 100 percent due to rounding.
SOURCE: "Exhibit II. Trend in AFDC/TANF Recipient Characteristics, Fiscal Year 1992–Fiscal Year 2001," in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program (TANF) Fifth Annual Report to Congress, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Family Assistance, February 2003 [Online] http://www.acf.dhhs.gov/programs/ofa/annualreport5/ [accessed January 11, 2004]

recipients left the program after a fairly short period, many returned later, potentially cycling in and out of welfare a number of times. Therefore, researchers measured not just the length of a given spell but also the total time of all spells in an individual's lifetime.

An analysis of AFDC recipients by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services revealed that almost half of AFDC recipients beginning any given spell received assistance for two or fewer years; 19 percent had welfare spells longer than seven years. For persons beginning their first AFDC spell, 36.5 percent spent less than two years on AFDC in their lifetimes, and 29 percent spent eight or more years.

In "Targeting Would-Be Long-Term Recipients of AFDC" (Princeton, NJ: Mathematica Policy Research, 1986), David T. Ellwood found that marital status was the single most powerful predictor of long-term welfare receipt. Single women receiving welfare averaged nine years on AFDC and represented 40 percent of those receiving welfare benefits at any one time. Thirty-nine percent were predicted to receive AFDC for ten years or more.

Under TANF, most states have imposed a lifetime limit of five years for the receipt of benefits for adults, although states are allowed to provide benefits for longer to hardship cases or victims of domestic violence. Some states have set limits lower than sixty

TABLE 7.11
Characteristics of those who receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, October 2000–September 2001

Total active families Newly-approved families Child-only families Closed-case families
Families:
Monthly average 2,120,500 151,000 786,900 165,800
Child-only cases 786,900 31,400 –– 37,100
Percent 37.2 20.8 22.4
Number of family members (percent of all families)
1 21.7 16.6 16.6
2 34.1 38.9 36.4
3 23.0 23.4 24.4
4 or more 21.2 21.1 21.6
Average 2.6 2.6 2.6
Number of recipient children (percent of all families)
1 44.8 47.2 53.4 44.4
2 28.5 26.6 27.0 27.9
3 14.8 13.4 12.4 13.9
4 or more 9.9 8.2 7.1 7.1
Unknown 2.0 4.6 0.1 6.7
Average 2.0 1.9 1.8 1.9
Type of assistance receiving (percent of all families)
Medical 98.9 99.1 97.9 96.1
Food stamps 80.9 79.0 63.1 74.4
Subsidized housing 20.0 14.9 14.1 16.3
Ethnicity/race (percent of all families)
White 30.1 37.6 27.9 36.4
African-American 39.0 40.0 38.5 34.6
Hispanic* 26.0 18.9 29.3 24.5
Asian 2.1 0.7 1.8 1.5
Native America 1.3 1.5 1.0 1.8
Other 0.8 0.5 0.7 0.6
Unknown 0.7 0.8 0.8 0.6
TANF cash assistance (percent of all families)
Percent 98.5 97.1 97.7
Monthly amount 351.26 278.07 319.46
Non-TANF income (percent of all families)
Percent 22.8 21.7 39.8
Monthly amount 592.87 489.17 893.36
Adults:
Age distribution (percent of all adults)
Under 20 7.4 10.3 10.6
20–29 42.4 49.5 45.2
30–39 31.2 27.9 29.0
Over 39 19.0 12.3 15.2
Average age 31.3 29.3 30.0
Martial status (percent of all adults)
Single 66.9 62.2 63.9
Married 11.7 13.3 14.3
Separated 12.5 14.9 13.5
Widowed 0.8 0.5 0.6
Divorced 8.2 9.1 7.7
Education level (percent of all adults)
1–6 years 3.9 2.1 2.7
7–9 years 11.8 11.1 11.1
10–11 years 29.7 28.2 29.7
12 years 49.0 51.7 48.5
More than 12 3.1 3.9 3.6
No formal 2.3 2.3 2.4
Unknown 0.2 0.7 2.0
Employment rate 26.7 18.8 35.8
Earned income (percent of all adults)
Percent 24.3 16.6 36.6
Monthly amount 685.74 582.86 907.58

TABLE 7.11
Characteristics of those who receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, October 2000–September 2001

Total active families Newly-approved families Child-only families Closed-case families
Children:
Age distribution (percent of all children)
0–1 13.4 20.0 7.8 16.9
2–5 24.9 28.7 21.5 29.3
6–11 35.8 32.0 38.9 33.2
12–15 18.4 14.0 22.1 14.6
16–19 7.5 5.3 9.7 5.9
Average age 7.8 6.6 8.8 6.9
Age of youngest (percent of all families)
Unborn 0.5 0.9 0.0
0–1 13.6 20.3 6.3 14.7
1–2 20.2 23.2 14.8 24.2
3–5 19.4 18.8 18.8 19.2
6–8 15.2 12.1 17.4 13.1
9–11 12.4 9.3 16.4 10.1
12–15 12.8 9.1 18.5 9.3
16 and older 5.0 3.4 7.8 6.9
Unknown 0.9 2.8 0.1 2.5
Ethnicity/race (percent of all children)
White 25.6 33.2 24.4 31.2
African-American 40.8 42.4 37.9 36.9
Hispanic* 27.8 20.3 32.9 25.6
Asian 2.7 0.7 2.4 1.2
Native American 1.2 1.5 0.9 3.3
Other 0.5 0.3 0.3 0.7
Unknown 1.4 1.6 1.2 1.1
Earned income (percent of all children)
Percent 2.8 2.8 4.2 2.8
Monthly amount 175.50 159.89 161.26 232.85
Notes: * = Can be any race.
—= Not Applicable.
Columns may not add to 100 percent due to rounding.
SOURCE: "Exhibit 1. TANF Recipient Characteristics, October 2000–September 2001," in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program (TANF) Fifth Annual Report to Congress, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Family Assistance, February 2003 [Online] http://www.acf.dhhs.gov/programs/ofa/annualreport5/ [accessed January 11, 2004]

months. Families in which there is no adult head of household are exempt from time limits. New studies of the duration of time on welfare of adult TANF recipients continue to be undertaken.

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