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Measuring state welfare policy changes: Why don't they explain caseload and employment outcomes?

Publication Abstract

Cadena, Brian, Sheldon H. Danziger, and Kristin Seefeldt. 2006. "Measuring state welfare policy changes: Why don't they explain caseload and employment outcomes?" Social Science Quarterly, 87(4): 808-817.

Objectives. Since the implementation of the 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, many analysts have attempted to measure the effects of new state welfare policies, particularly work requirements, sanctions, and time limits, on the Act's key goals-reducing cash assistance caseloads and increasing employment among single mothers. De Jong et al. present new measures of state policy variations, but they do not attempt to evaluate the relationships between these measures and welfare reform outcomes. For their analysis to be meaningful, it should contribute to a better understanding of cross-state variations in caseload declines and increased employment among single mothers. Methods. We first raise conceptual questions about the extent to which their measures are meaningful in a policy sense. We then present analyses of Current Population Survey data. Results. We find that differences in the De Jong et al. stringency measures (factor scores) are not significantly correlated with differences in welfare reform outcomes by state.

DOI:10.1111/j.1540-6237.2006.00436.x (Full Text)

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