Welfare Caseload Change: An Alternative Approach

Mead, L.
Policy Studies Journal, Vol. 31, no. 2 (May 2003)

In the last decade, caseloads in AFDC/TANF have shifted dramatically up, then down. Of existing studies based on time series or state panel data, some tend to underplay the role of welfare reform. All say little about that policies drove the decline or about the role of governmental quality. An approach using cross-sectional models explains interstate differences in caseload change rather than the national trend but allows more discussion about the role of policy and government. Results suggest that grant levels, work and child support requirements, and sanctions are important explainers of change, along with some demographic terms and unemployment. These policies in turn are tied to states' political opinion, political culture, and institutional capacity. Moralistic states seem the most capable of transforming welfare in the manner the public wants.

Wagner Faculty