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  • Individual Author: Mahoney, Bette S.; Khan, Abdul
    Year: 1976

    Poor persons living in the United States in the 1970s are rich in contrast to their counterparts in other times and places. They are not poor if by poor is meant the subsistence levels of living common in some other countries. Nor are most poor like their counterparts in this country fifty or one hundred years ago. This country is concerned about poverty, its causes and correlates. It is willing to relieve the poverty of some of the poor and it wants to measure the effectiveness of its efforts to do so. None of this can be done without some idea of who is to be considered poor and who is not.

    The report deals with measuring the current status of the poor rather than with the causes or solutions to poverty. A family is none the less poor for having arrived at that state of its own accord. Similarly, the fact that an individual could with modest and reasonable effort escape from poverty has nothing to do with whether he is currently poor...

    The study examines (1) regional, climatic, metropolitan, urban, suburban, and rural differences in the poverty measure, (2)...

    Poor persons living in the United States in the 1970s are rich in contrast to their counterparts in other times and places. They are not poor if by poor is meant the subsistence levels of living common in some other countries. Nor are most poor like their counterparts in this country fifty or one hundred years ago. This country is concerned about poverty, its causes and correlates. It is willing to relieve the poverty of some of the poor and it wants to measure the effectiveness of its efforts to do so. None of this can be done without some idea of who is to be considered poor and who is not.

    The report deals with measuring the current status of the poor rather than with the causes or solutions to poverty. A family is none the less poor for having arrived at that state of its own accord. Similarly, the fact that an individual could with modest and reasonable effort escape from poverty has nothing to do with whether he is currently poor...

    The study examines (1) regional, climatic, metropolitan, urban, suburban, and rural differences in the poverty measure, (2) differences due to family size and head of household, and  (3) the availability of state and other subnational data more current than the decennial Census, including cost of living, cost of housing, labor market and job availability, prevailing wage rates, unemployment rates, income distribution, and the eligibility criteria for aid to families with dependent children (AFDC) under state plans approved for Title IV of the Social Security Act. (author introduction)

  • Individual Author: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
    Year: 1997

    The Welfare Indicators Act of 1994 (part of Public Law 103-432) directed the Secretary of Health and Human Services to study the most useful statistics for tracking and predicting dependence on three means-tested cash and nutritional assistance programs: Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), Food Stamps, and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). It also required the submission of annual reports on welfare receipt in the United States that track key indicators and predictors of welfare dependence. An Interim Report to Congress addressing the development of welfare indicators and predictors and assessing the data needed to report annually on the indicators and predictors was submitted a year ago. This report is the first of the annual reports required under the law.

    This year's first annual report differs from the Interim Report in several important ways. While the Interim Report provided a wide-ranging list of indicators, this report highlights a few measures of dependence that were recommended for consideration by the Advisory Board....

    The Welfare Indicators Act of 1994 (part of Public Law 103-432) directed the Secretary of Health and Human Services to study the most useful statistics for tracking and predicting dependence on three means-tested cash and nutritional assistance programs: Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), Food Stamps, and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). It also required the submission of annual reports on welfare receipt in the United States that track key indicators and predictors of welfare dependence. An Interim Report to Congress addressing the development of welfare indicators and predictors and assessing the data needed to report annually on the indicators and predictors was submitted a year ago. This report is the first of the annual reports required under the law.

    This year's first annual report differs from the Interim Report in several important ways. While the Interim Report provided a wide-ranging list of indicators, this report highlights a few measures of dependence that were recommended for consideration by the Advisory Board. Although recognizing the difficulties inherent in defining and measuring dependence, the Advisory Board proposed the following definition that could be tracked over time:

    • A family is dependent on welfare if more than 50 percent of its total income in a one-year period comes from AFDC/TANF, Food Stamps and/or SSI, and this welfare income is not associated with work activities. Welfare dependence is the proportion of all families who are dependent on welfare.

    The Advisory Board's recommended definition would count as work activities only unsubsidized and subsidized employment and work required to obtain benefits. This concept and measures of this definition, as well as a duration of receipt measure, are presented and discussed in Chapter I. A discussion of measures of deprivation is also included in Chapter I to ensure that dependence measures are not assessed in isolation.

    Chapter II includes indicators of income and food assistance program participation and program-related measures of dependence. These indicators focus on recipients of cash and nutrition assistance, and reflect both the range and depth of dependence. Data relating recipients' level of welfare income, amount of earnings, duration of receipt, participation in the labor force while receiving assistance, and multiple program receipt are included, along with information on events associated with beginning and ending receipt of means-tested assistance. Trend data on these indicators are provided where available.

    Data on risk factors that have been identified as associated with welfare utilization and dependence are provided in Chapter III. While the Advisory Board was in agreement that a smaller set of dependence indicators should be highlighted, they were also in agreement that, since the causes of welfare receipt and dependence are not clearly known, the report should include a larger set of risk factors associated with welfare receipt. Still this report reduces the overall number of predictors and risk factors by about 20 percent from the number included in the Interim Report. Most of the deleted indicators are measures of well-being, particularly child well-being, that are tracked in other publications of the Department of Health and Human Services. The risk factors in Chapter III are loosely organized into three categories: economic security measures, measures related to employment and barriers to employment, and measures of teen behavior, including nonmarital childbearing.

    Chapter IV addresses some of the complexities of data reporting and collection under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Family (TANF) block grants. Since the 1996 welfare law fundamentally changed the nation's cash assistance programs, it is important to understand the policy and program context that may surround changes in welfare dependence over time. It is crucial to collect a sufficient level of detailed administrative data about the TANF program and its recipients and benefits to permit tracking trends in dependence and deprivation over time. The quality and level of detail of TANF administrative data takes on even greater importance in the context of this report's proposed primary indicator of welfare dependence. In addition, despite the fact that most national survey data are not representative at the state level, they are critical for capturing indicators of adult labor force participation, earnings, program participation, fertility and child well-being, as well as complementing caseload data for tracking changes in dependence.

    Because welfare programs have changed substantially in the recent past and are continuing to change rapidly, Appendix A is included to give basic data on each of the three main welfare programs and their recipients over the past several years. Appendix A briefly describes the three programs covered by the Welfare Indicators Act and highlights some of the recent legislative changes that will affect participation and/or expenditures in those programs. It also includes information on the population and characteristics of individuals and families receiving AFDC/TANF, Food Stamps and SSI, and national and state data on program participation and expenditures trends.

    Other Appendices provide more detailed information on several related subjects. Appendix B consists of a series of tables on poverty issues. Appendix C includes a comparison between the indicators and predictors included in this Annual Report and those recommended in the Interim Report. Additional data on nonmarital childbearing is included in Appendix D. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Nadel, Mark V.; Harris, Gale C.; Riedinger, Susan A.
    Year: 1998

    Pursuant to a legislative requirement, GAO provided information on the effects of family violence on the use of welfare programs, focusing on the: (1) prevalence of domestic violence among welfare recipients; and (2) implications of domestic violence for the employment of welfare recipients and other low-income women.

    GAO noted that: (1) while studies on the prevalence of domestic violence among welfare recipients do not provide national estimates of prevalence and vary substantially in terms of methodology and the samples studied, these studies consistently indicate that a sizable proportion of welfare recipients have been or are victims of domestic violence; (2) the one study of those reviewed that was specifically designed to provide a statewide prevalence estimate was based on a representative sample of Aid to Families with Dependent Children recipients in Massachusetts in 1996; (3) this study found that almost 20 percent of the welfare recipients surveyed had experienced domestic violence in the prior 12 months, and about 65 percent had been victims of domestic...

    Pursuant to a legislative requirement, GAO provided information on the effects of family violence on the use of welfare programs, focusing on the: (1) prevalence of domestic violence among welfare recipients; and (2) implications of domestic violence for the employment of welfare recipients and other low-income women.

    GAO noted that: (1) while studies on the prevalence of domestic violence among welfare recipients do not provide national estimates of prevalence and vary substantially in terms of methodology and the samples studied, these studies consistently indicate that a sizable proportion of welfare recipients have been or are victims of domestic violence; (2) the one study of those reviewed that was specifically designed to provide a statewide prevalence estimate was based on a representative sample of Aid to Families with Dependent Children recipients in Massachusetts in 1996; (3) this study found that almost 20 percent of the welfare recipients surveyed had experienced domestic violence in the prior 12 months, and about 65 percent had been victims of domestic violence at some time in their lives; (4) the research available on the effect of domestic violence on the employment of welfare recipients and other low-income women presents a more complex picture; (5) some research indicates that welfare recipients and other low-income women who reported ever having been abused were employed at the same rates as those who had never been abused; (6) but no studies compared employment rates among women currently in abusive relationships, as opposed to women who reported having been abused in the past, with employment rates of women who are not now in abusive relationships; and (7) however, several studies do identify potential negative effects of current domestic violence on victims' employment. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO)
    Year: 1998

    Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on how successful states are likely to be in obtaining child support for families whose benefits are subject to time limits, focusing on: (1) how successful states that experimented with time-limited benefits before welfare reform have been in obtaining child support for families who reach their limits; (2) how successful states have been in obtaining child support for families within a 5-year period, the maximum time a family may receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits; and (3) the implications time limits have for states and families.

    GAO noted that: (1) many TANF families may not be able to count on child support as a steady source of income when their time-limited welfare benefits expire; (2) in the first three states to enforce welfare benefit time limits--Connecticut, Florida, and Virginia--only about 20 to 30 percent of families had any child support collected for them in the 12 months before their welfare benefits were terminated; (3) about one-half or more of the child support...

    Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on how successful states are likely to be in obtaining child support for families whose benefits are subject to time limits, focusing on: (1) how successful states that experimented with time-limited benefits before welfare reform have been in obtaining child support for families who reach their limits; (2) how successful states have been in obtaining child support for families within a 5-year period, the maximum time a family may receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits; and (3) the implications time limits have for states and families.

    GAO noted that: (1) many TANF families may not be able to count on child support as a steady source of income when their time-limited welfare benefits expire; (2) in the first three states to enforce welfare benefit time limits--Connecticut, Florida, and Virginia--only about 20 to 30 percent of families had any child support collected for them in the 12 months before their welfare benefits were terminated; (3) about one-half or more of the child support cases without collections lacked a child support order legally obligating a noncustodial parent to pay child support at the time the families' assistance was terminated, despite having a long history in the child support program before time limits were implemented; (4) for families whose child support was secured, the median collections among the three states ranged from a total of $581 to $1,348 for the 12-month period; (5) in two high-performing child support states, Minnesota and Washington, GAO observed better outcomes for a sample of Aid to Families with Dependent Children child support cases that first opened in 1992 and remained open for 5 years; (6) about two-thirds of the families received some child support in the last 12 months of that period; (7) support order establishment rates were higher for these cases as well: in both states, orders were established within 5 years for more than 80 percent of the cases that needed them; (8) the median amounts of child support collected for these families ranged from $1,875 to $2,118 for the 12-month period; (9) despite these outcomes, about one-third of the child support clients in these states reached the end of the 5-year period without any child support; (10) to better ensure that child support is available for families in a time-limited welfare system, states will need to improve their child support performance for families already in the welfare system and for those who enter it for the first time; (11) in the three states GAO studied that had imposed time limits on families already receiving aid, from one-half to three-quarters of the families could not get child support because the state did not or could not locate the noncustodial parent; (12) it is also important for states to move quickly to pursue child support for families that have just begun receiving aid; (13) state officials told GAO that information on noncustodial parents is best pursued early and aggressively to achieve successful outcomes; and (14) GAO's analysis showed that successful outcomes are most likely within 2 years after a family begins receiving child support services. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Crouse, Gil; Hauan, Susan; Isaacs, Julia; Lyon, Matt; Silva, Richard
    Year: 1998

    The Welfare Indicators Act of 1994 requires the Department of Health and Human Services to prepare annual reports to Congress on indicators and predictors of welfare dependence.  This Annual Report on Welfare Indicators, October 1998 is the second of these annual reports.

    Welfare dependence, like poverty, is a continuum, with variations in degree and in duration.  Families may be more or less dependent if larger or smaller shares of their total resources are derived from welfare programs.  The amount of time over which a family depends on welfare might also be considered in assessing their degree of dependency.  Although recognizing the difficulties inherent in defining and measuring dependence, the bipartisan Advisory Board on Welfare Indicators proposed the following definition:

    • A family is dependent on welfare if more than 50 percent of its total income in a one-year period comes from AFDC/TANF, Food Stamps and/or SSI, and this welfare income is not associated with work activities.  Welfare dependence is the proportion of all families who are...

    The Welfare Indicators Act of 1994 requires the Department of Health and Human Services to prepare annual reports to Congress on indicators and predictors of welfare dependence.  This Annual Report on Welfare Indicators, October 1998 is the second of these annual reports.

    Welfare dependence, like poverty, is a continuum, with variations in degree and in duration.  Families may be more or less dependent if larger or smaller shares of their total resources are derived from welfare programs.  The amount of time over which a family depends on welfare might also be considered in assessing their degree of dependency.  Although recognizing the difficulties inherent in defining and measuring dependence, the bipartisan Advisory Board on Welfare Indicators proposed the following definition:

    • A family is dependent on welfare if more than 50 percent of its total income in a one-year period comes from AFDC/TANF, Food Stamps and/or SSI, and this welfare income is not associated with work activities.  Welfare dependence is the proportion of all families who are dependent on welfare.

    The proposed definition, unfortunately, cannot be measured precisely at this time with currently available data.  Most importantly, current data do not distinguish between cash benefits where work is required and cash benefits that are paid without work.  Thus it was not possible to construct one single indicator of dependence.  Instead this report includes a number of indicators addressing welfare recipiency, dependence, and labor force attachment...

    Since the causes of welfare receipt and dependence are not clearly known, the report also includes a larger set of risk factors associated with welfare receipt.  Indicators of deprivation are included as a supplement to the dependence indicators, ensuring that dependence measures are not assessed in isolation.  The risk factors are loosely organized into three categories:  economic security measures, measures related to employment and barriers to employment, and measures of teen behavior, including nonmarital childbearing.  Additional data on welfare programs, poverty, and non-marital births are included in three appendices. (author abstract)

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