Multi-Dimensional Profiles of Welfare and Work Dynamics: Development, Validation, and Relationship to Child Cognitive and Mental Health Outcomes
American Journal of Community Psychology, 29, pp. 907-936.

Yoshikawa, H. & Seidman, E.

This prospective longitudinal study addresses the research gap in the literature regarding multidimensional variation in welfare use and employment patterns, and relationships of such variation with parent earnings and child development outcomes. This study also aims to address the limitations of welfare dynamics studies that do not examine how multiple dimensions of welfare receipt and employment co-occur Cluster analysis was utilized, using monthly welfare and employment data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, to examine variation within the welfare population in their welfare and work patterns across the first 5 years of children's lives. Six cluster profiles of welfare and work dynamics were found: Short-Term, Short-Term Work Exit, Working Cyclers, Nonworking Cyclers, Cycle to Long-Term Exit, and Long-Term. The clusters were validated using mother's 6th-year earnings as the criterion. The clusters' associations with child development outcomes in the cognitive and mental health domains (at ages 6 and 7) were then explored. Work following short-term welfare use was associated with higher child reading scores than that following long-term use (a moderate-size effect). Cycling on and off welfare in the context of high levels of employment was associated with higher child internalizing symptoms than cycling accompanied by low levels of employment (a moderate-size effect). Implications for evaluation of TANF welfare-to-work policies are discussed.