State Politics, Race, and “Welfare” as a Funding Stream: Cash Assistance Spending Under Temporary Assistance for Needy Families


By bhadmin February 2, 2021

Race and racism have long been identified as influences on state cash assistance policy under Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF; “welfare” in the United States) and its predecessor programs. TANF is structured as a flexible block grant with a state contribution requirement and cash benefits now account for only about one‐quarter of all program expenditures. Both proportion of effort devoted to cash assistance and change over time since passage of the 1996 welfare reform law vary by state. In this article, I consider the relationship between prevalence of negative stereotyping of blacks among whites in a state and emphasis on cash assistance as a TANF expenditure priority from 1998 to 2013. I find that prevalence of stereotyping of blacks among whites is related to TANF cash assistance effort, while evidence that it is related to the rate of decline in cash assistance over time is ambiguous.

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