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The SSRC Library allows visitors to access materials related to self-sufficiency programs, practice and research. Visitors can view common search terms, conduct a keyword search or create a custom search using any combination of the filters at the left side of this page. To conduct a keyword search, type a term or combination of terms into the search box below, select whether you want to search the exact phrase or the words in any order, and click on the blue button to the right of the search box to view relevant results.

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  • Individual Author: Fusaro, Vincent A.
    Reference Type: Thesis
    Year: 2017

    Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), the program created by welfare reform in 1996, is implemented as a fixed federal block grant that states partially match through a "Maintenance of Effort" contribution. States can use funds in support of any of the four goals of reform: ending dependence on public support through work and marriage, promoting the formation and maintenance of two-parent families, reducing the incidence of out-of-wedlock births, and facilitating care of children in their own homes. Rather than a cash assistance program, TANF is a funding stream states partially use for cash assistance. Traditional welfare now only constitutes approximately one-quarter of TANF expenditures, though the fraction varies widely by state. Most research on state TANF implementation, however, examines the requirements and activities associated with cash assistance receipt. This dissertation comprises three studies intended to better align welfare scholarship with the contemporary form of TANF. The first study examines state TANF cash assistance expenditures and change in...

    Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), the program created by welfare reform in 1996, is implemented as a fixed federal block grant that states partially match through a "Maintenance of Effort" contribution. States can use funds in support of any of the four goals of reform: ending dependence on public support through work and marriage, promoting the formation and maintenance of two-parent families, reducing the incidence of out-of-wedlock births, and facilitating care of children in their own homes. Rather than a cash assistance program, TANF is a funding stream states partially use for cash assistance. Traditional welfare now only constitutes approximately one-quarter of TANF expenditures, though the fraction varies widely by state. Most research on state TANF implementation, however, examines the requirements and activities associated with cash assistance receipt. This dissertation comprises three studies intended to better align welfare scholarship with the contemporary form of TANF. The first study examines state TANF cash assistance expenditures and change in expenditures over time using multilevel growth curve models and a sample of all states from 1998 to 2013. I express expenditures as a per-family-in-poverty expense and as a percentage of overall TANF spending. Predictors include a number of political, social, and economic factors. I pay particular attention to the role of race in state politics. In contrast to many earlier studies, which operationalize the salience of race using welfare caseload or population demographics, I create a state-level measure of the prevalence of white stereotyping of blacks. I find that a larger proportion of whites expressing negative views of blacks is related to reduced basic assistance effort but not to rate of change in effort. Additionally, fiscal distress is associated with lower cash assistance effort. In the second study I investigate influences on categorical uses of TANF funds from 2000 to 2013. For categories of expenditures, such as work activities and supportive services, in which almost all states expend resources in almost all years, I estimate multilevel linear models of spending, again expressed both as percentages of total effort and as per-family-in-poverty expenditures. For categories with less consistent spending, I estimate logistic regression models of the probability of a state spending in the category in 2001, 2006, and 2012. I once again find a relationship between prevalence of negative stereotypes of blacks among whites and basic assistance spending. It is also related to the probability of a state using resources for pregnancy prevention or two-parent family support. Fiscal stress is associated with a higher probability of a state transferring funds to the Social Services Block Grant. Finally, the third study considers the consequences of the decline of cash assistance for low-income families. Using data from the Current Population Survey Food Security Supplement (2001-2013), I model food insecurity in low-income households as a function of state cash assistance coverage (ratio of TANF cases to low-income families). Higher coverage is associated with a reduced risk of food insecurity, particularly for households headed by a single female with no other adults. Coverage is generally not related to the presence of an employed adult in the household, however. Tying economic relief to the low-wage labor market, while having beneficial effects for some, has also increased the risk of material hardship in the most vulnerable households. Market-oriented policy may have limits as a safety net of last resort. (Author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Dominguez, Gabriel
    Reference Type: Thesis
    Year: 2015

    Food insecure households are not necessarily food insecure all the time. Food Insecurity may reflect a need to make tradeoffs between other important basic needs such as housing, medical bills, or buying nutritious foods (Feeding America, 2011). According to the 2010 Almanac of Hunger and Poverty in America, 17% of American children under the age of 18 are food insecure. Although children in need are able to receive free or discounted meals at their schools, many of them suffer periods of hunger or food insecurity while at home. Cursory research indicates the vast need for additional help. According to Feeding America (2011), 25.4% of Michigan children are considered food insecure. These children live in households in which there is a precarious balancing act between essential needs such as housing, health bills, and a well stocked pantry. Often the adults or older siblings in food insecure households try to protect the younger ones from hunger but many times this isn’t possible. These children, although fed at school, go home not knowing if there will be a nutritious meal for...

    Food insecure households are not necessarily food insecure all the time. Food Insecurity may reflect a need to make tradeoffs between other important basic needs such as housing, medical bills, or buying nutritious foods (Feeding America, 2011). According to the 2010 Almanac of Hunger and Poverty in America, 17% of American children under the age of 18 are food insecure. Although children in need are able to receive free or discounted meals at their schools, many of them suffer periods of hunger or food insecurity while at home. Cursory research indicates the vast need for additional help. According to Feeding America (2011), 25.4% of Michigan children are considered food insecure. These children live in households in which there is a precarious balancing act between essential needs such as housing, health bills, and a well stocked pantry. Often the adults or older siblings in food insecure households try to protect the younger ones from hunger but many times this isn’t possible. These children, although fed at school, go home not knowing if there will be a nutritious meal for them at dinner time. This hunger and even the fear of not having enough quality food to eat can have drastic effects on the health and development of a child. These, in turn, can have broader detrimental effects on not only the child’s future, but the future of our state as well. (Author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Bailey, Andrea Leigh
    Reference Type: Thesis
    Year: 2015

    The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Economic Research Service estimates that 23.5 million people live in food deserts, over half of which are considered low-income residents. Accurately defining a food desert is crucial as the designated areas can benefit from grant opportunities and funding priority. To qualify as an urban food desert, the USDA requires that at least 500 residents or one-third of the population live outside a one-mile buffer from a supermarket as well as have a median income of less than 80% of the area average or a poverty rate of greater than 20%. Approaches in the literature to identify low accessibility areas (food deserts) include simple spatial analyses, travel cost models, grocery cost models, and activity-based models. Although using cost as a measure of access is beneficial, the travel cost components are ill-defined, especially for transit. Additionally, defining food deserts as a ratio of travel cost to median household income may more accurately reflect areas with poor accessibility to healthy food by utilizing a combined measure...

    The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Economic Research Service estimates that 23.5 million people live in food deserts, over half of which are considered low-income residents. Accurately defining a food desert is crucial as the designated areas can benefit from grant opportunities and funding priority. To qualify as an urban food desert, the USDA requires that at least 500 residents or one-third of the population live outside a one-mile buffer from a supermarket as well as have a median income of less than 80% of the area average or a poverty rate of greater than 20%. Approaches in the literature to identify low accessibility areas (food deserts) include simple spatial analyses, travel cost models, grocery cost models, and activity-based models. Although using cost as a measure of access is beneficial, the travel cost components are ill-defined, especially for transit. Additionally, defining food deserts as a ratio of travel cost to median household income may more accurately reflect areas with poor accessibility to healthy food by utilizing a combined measure instead of distinct income and access components.

    This paper develops a cost surface for auto, transit, and walking to determine the average travel cost to the nearest supermarket for each mode in Indianapolis using Spatial Analyst in ArcGIS 10.2. Given the results from ArcGIS, spatial lag models are used to model the proportion of household income spent on traveling to supermarkets as a function of socioeconomic variables. The results show that a higher crime density, no college degree, and living outside of I-465 are all correlated with poorer accessibility to healthy food. These explanatory variables had similar effects for driving and walking, but the transit network was less sensitive to education and crime and more location-dependent. For this study, working with the police department and community to reduce crime as well as expanding the transit network are both recommended as potential interventions. Results from this analysis can provide valuable insight into the reasons behind the existence of food deserts. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Dean, Jerome J.
    Reference Type: Thesis
    Year: 2014

    Even as researchers have examined the impact of child support law and policy on male labor supply and even as economist have consistently shown that marriage and child custody are associated with increases in male labor supply, no study has ever quantitatively examined the effects of the loss of custody on male employment or labor supply. This study utilizes a social framework that treats marriage, child custody and support as built on a set of transactions that are entered into voluntarily and that motivate men to produce more than they otherwise would. Similarly, when men become fathers out of wedlock or become noncustodial parents as a result of divorce or as a result of cohabiting arrangements breaking down, these transactions become truncated. We hypothesize that this will have an unambiguously negative effect on male employment. The study employs data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation (1996 and 2004 Panels) to measure the statistical relationships and effects of marriage, divorce, custody and child support on male labor supply. The results of this...

    Even as researchers have examined the impact of child support law and policy on male labor supply and even as economist have consistently shown that marriage and child custody are associated with increases in male labor supply, no study has ever quantitatively examined the effects of the loss of custody on male employment or labor supply. This study utilizes a social framework that treats marriage, child custody and support as built on a set of transactions that are entered into voluntarily and that motivate men to produce more than they otherwise would. Similarly, when men become fathers out of wedlock or become noncustodial parents as a result of divorce or as a result of cohabiting arrangements breaking down, these transactions become truncated. We hypothesize that this will have an unambiguously negative effect on male employment. The study employs data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation (1996 and 2004 Panels) to measure the statistical relationships and effects of marriage, divorce, custody and child support on male labor supply. The results of this study suggest that marriage and custody increase male labor supply, while loss of custody decreases male labor supply, and being under a child support order counteracts the negative effects of the loss of custody. All of these effects are most pronounced among the least educated. Ultimately, this study suggests that law and public policy put more emphasis on enforcing contact between noncustodial fathers and their children, and that over the longer-term American society re-examine how it decides custody in divorce and out-of-wedlock birth situations. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Kimberlin, Sara Elizabeth
    Reference Type: Thesis
    Year: 2013

    This study uses an alternative poverty measure recently developed by the U.S. Census Bureau and U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM), in place of the official federal poverty measure (OPM) to determine who qualifies as poor, and analyzes poverty from a longitudinal rather than cross-sectional perspective, examining chronic or long-term poverty and transient or short-term poverty as distinct phenomena.

    Descriptive analysis was used to examine the prevalence and demographics of chronic and transient poverty, to compare the demographics of chronic and transient poverty using the Supplemental Poverty Measure versus using the official federal poverty measure, and to examine the impact of existing government benefits, private resources, and household expenses on chronic and transient poverty rates. Results showed that chronic poverty was a rare phenomenon, affecting only 2.1% of the sample or approximately 1 in 50 individuals, while transient poverty was fairly common, affecting 18.9% of the sample or approximately 1 in 20 individuals. The...

    This study uses an alternative poverty measure recently developed by the U.S. Census Bureau and U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM), in place of the official federal poverty measure (OPM) to determine who qualifies as poor, and analyzes poverty from a longitudinal rather than cross-sectional perspective, examining chronic or long-term poverty and transient or short-term poverty as distinct phenomena.

    Descriptive analysis was used to examine the prevalence and demographics of chronic and transient poverty, to compare the demographics of chronic and transient poverty using the Supplemental Poverty Measure versus using the official federal poverty measure, and to examine the impact of existing government benefits, private resources, and household expenses on chronic and transient poverty rates. Results showed that chronic poverty was a rare phenomenon, affecting only 2.1% of the sample or approximately 1 in 50 individuals, while transient poverty was fairly common, affecting 18.9% of the sample or approximately 1 in 20 individuals. The demographics of chronic and transient poverty were somewhat different, with groups that experienced high rates of transient poverty generally demonstrating even more disproportionately high rates of chronic poverty. Thus chronic poverty was more concentrated among particularly disadvantaged groups, while the population affected by transient poverty was still disadvantaged but more similar to the overall sample. The rates of chronic and transient poverty calculated using the SPM were statistically significantly different from the rates calculated using the official federal poverty measure, for both the overall sample and for many demographic subgroups. In general, chronic poverty rates were lower, and transient poverty rates were higher, when using the SPM versus using the OPM. Finally, government benefits were shown to have a substantial impact on both chronic and transient poverty rates, reducing the overall transient poverty rate from 23.9% to 18.9%, a difference of 5.0 percentage points, and reducing the overall chronic poverty rate from 10.8% to 2.1%, a reduction of 8.7 percentage points. One observed effect of government benefits was to increase household resources just enough to shift some individuals out of chronic poverty into transient poverty.

    Results of this study suggest implications for both research and policy. The finding that rates of chronic and transient poverty differ depending on whether the Supplemental Poverty Measure or official federal poverty measure is used suggests that researchers and policy analysts should consider using the SPM when analyzing longitudinal poverty, as the SPM has a stronger conceptual and empirical grounding than the OPM and did not simply function as a proxy for the OPM when examining poverty longitudinally in this study. Results related to the impact of government benefits on chronic and transient poverty rates suggest that policymakers should consider not just short-term policy impacts, but also the longitudinal impact of specific policies and of the overall package of government benefits on poverty. In addition, the differential impact of policies on chronic versus transient poverty, and on chronic and transient poverty among different demographic subgroups, should be considered. Findings related to the predictors of chronic versus transient poverty suggest that policies to address chronic poverty should target individuals with limited bases of human assets needed to generate income; such policies could function either through asset building or through long-term income supplementation or subsidies. Transient poverty could be addressed by enhancing short-term unemployment support, while policies targeted to asset-limited individuals would be likely to impact transient as well as chronic poverty. Further research to more clearly distinguish predictors of chronic poverty over and above transient poverty would be helpful for policy targeting purposes. Finally, prior research on the impact of chronic and transient poverty on life outcomes suggests that two types of poverty could be considered as priorities for policy interventions, due to greater impact on health and other outcomes, namely chronic poverty (as exposure to longer duration of poverty is associated with worse outcomes) and transient poverty occurring during the sensitive developmental period of childhood (as exposure to even short-term poverty during this sensitive period is associated with serious long-term health and developmental impacts). Results from this study show that addressing either of these two types of poverty could be feasible, if somewhat ambitious policy goals in terms of the number of individuals affected and the cumulative gap between their resources and needs. (author abstract)

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