Life After Welfare: Reform and the Persistence of Poverty

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University of Texas Press, Jan 27, 2009 - Political Science - 191 pages
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In the decade since President Clinton signed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 into law—amidst promises that it would "end welfare as we know it"—have the reforms ending entitlements and moving toward time limits and work requirements lifted Texas families once living on welfare out of poverty, or merely stricken their names from the administrative rolls?

Under welfare reform, Texas has continued with low monthly payments and demanding eligibility criteria. Many families who could receive welfare in other states do not qualify in Texas, and virtually any part-time job makes a family ineligible. In Texas, most families who leave welfare remain in or near poverty, and many are likely to return to the welfare rolls in the future.

This compelling work, which follows 179 families after leaving welfare, is set against a backdrop of multiple types of data and econometric modeling. The authors' multi-method approach draws on administrative data from nine programs serving low-income families and a statewide survey of families who have left welfare. Survey data on health problems, transportation needs, and child-care issues shed light on the patterns of employment and welfare use seen in the administrative data. In their lives after welfare, the families chronicled here experience poverty even when employed; a multiplicity of barriers to employment that work to exacerbate one another; and a failing safety net of basic human services as they attempt to sustain low-wage employment.


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Families in a Changing Welfare Context
The Context for Texas Poverty and Welfare
The Weak and Tangled Safety Net
Making a Living After Welfare Where Does the Money Come From?
Coping with Barriers to SelfSufficiency
Staying Employed and Off Welfare
LowIncome Families and TANF Policies What Works and What Doesnt
Research Methods
Regression Tables

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About the author (2009)

Laura Lein is Professor of Social Work and Anthropology at the University of Texas at Austin.

Deanna T. Schexnayder is Associate Director and a Research Scientist at the Ray Marshall Center for the Study of Human Resources, a unit of the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin.

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