Paper discusses welfare sanctions and consequences for material
ANN ARBOR, Mich.Welfare recipients who
have their benefits reduced for failure to comply with welfare work
programs are more likely than other recipients to resort to desperate
measures such as pawning or searching in trash cans to make ends
meet, a new report says.
The issue of who gets sanctioned and what happens
to these families is one that has received a fair amount of media
attention and has been discussed in welfare policy debates.
A paper by Ariel Kalil, assistant professor of
public policy at the University of Chicago, University of Michigan
Ford School research investigator Kristin S. Seefeldt and Hui-chen
Wang, an economics graduate student at U-M, is titled "Sanctions
and Material Hardship under TANF," (Temporary Assistance for
Needy Families program) and was published in Social Service Review.
The authors examined factors associated with the
likelihood that a welfare recipient might be sanctioned and whether
this reduction leads to hardship. "There is a school of thought
that sanctions should increase economic stress; the notion being
that the discomfort caused by the sanction will motivate the client
to follow program rules," Kalil said. "More than a third
of sanctioned recipients experienced hardship, compared to less
than 15 percent of those who weren't sanctioned. What we don't
know, though, is whether families can cope with these economic stressors
and figure out how to come back into compliance or if sanctions
will just lead to further hardship."
Data was used from the first three years of the
Women's Employment Study, a panel study by U-M's Program
on Poverty and Social Welfare Policy of women in a Michigan County
who received welfare in February 1997. The authors found that welfare
recipients who are younger, African-American and lacking a high
school degree were more likely to be sanctioned.
"More than two-thirds of the sanctioned women
in our sample were African-American, even though they comprise just
over half of our study respondents. They may have more difficulty
finding employment and thus meeting work requirements. They may
receive different treatment in the welfare office than whites. They
may respond differently to the rules of the new welfare system.
Our study cannot pinpoint the reason, but it is an area we need
to explore further," Seefeldt said.
Kalil is an assistant professor in the Irving
B. Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies. She serves as
a faculty affiliate with the Harris School's Center for Human Potential
and Public Policy. She is also affiliated with the University's
Sloan Center on Working Families, the Population Research Center,
and the University of Chicago/Northwestern University Joint Center
for Poverty Research. Previously she was a post-doctoral research
fellow at U-M's Program on Poverty and Social Welfare Policy.
Kalil's research focuses primarily on child and family functioning
in low-income families.
Seefeldt is a research investigator at U-M's
Program on Poverty and Social Welfare Policy within the Gerald R.
Ford School of Public Policy. Seefeldt has conducted research on
a variety of social policy issues, primarily focusing on process
analysis and field research of welfare and employment and training
policies and programs. She is also one of 12 faculty and researchers
who comprise the core leadership for the National Poverty Center,
a five-year cooperative agreement between the U.S. Department of
Health and Human Services and the Ford School to examine the causes
of poverty and the impact of policies to alleviate poverty.
Wang is a Ph.D. student in economics at U-M. Her
work focuses on the economics of post-secondary education, labor
market outcomes of welfare reform and policy differences and competition
The abstract and full text of the paper can be
viewed at: www.journals.uchicago.edu/SSR/journal/contents/v76n4.html
Contact: Jared Wadley
Phone: (734) 936-7819