The Importance of Region and State Welfare Rules for Disconnected Single Mothers


By bhadmin February 2, 2021

The proportion of low-income, single mothers not receiving public assistance or participating in the formal employment sector has approximately doubled over the past decade. Many of the currently debated policy options to support these families focus on state level programs. However, little is known about the relationships between state welfare program characteristics and disconnectedness. This project assesses the effect of state welfare rules on the likelihood of being disconnected from these two income sources. Using data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation and the Urban Instituteā€Ÿs Welfare Rules Database, the current research compares the circumstances of these at-risk mothers in southern versus non-southern states and examines the influence of welfare policies on the probability of becoming disconnected, controlling for other individual- and state-level variables. Results from multilevel logistic regression models demonstrate that the macro level matters, in particular women residing in states with more flexible welfare rules and lower unemployment rates are less likely to be disconnected. The present findings offer empirical evidence that more flexible policies, including exemptions from work activity requirements and more lenient sanction policies, are beneficial to this population.

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