Welfare Reform, Living Arrangements, and Economic Well-Being: A Synthesis of Literature
The Urban Institute, June 2002
55 Pages Posted: 24 Jan 2013
Date Written: June 2002
A primary objective of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) is reducing single mothers' dependence on the welfare system. This objective is sought not only through increased work, but also through changes in household structure — particularly encouraging healthy marriages and the formation and maintenance of two-parent families. Indeed, moving from a one-parent to a two-parent family may have positive implications for the economic well-being of families with children.
This literature review focuses on the relationships between welfare reform, household structure, economic well-being, and resource sharing. In particular, we address two questions:
Have changes in welfare policies in the 1990s affected household structure? What are the effects of household structure on economic well-being and intra-household resource sharing? Studies examining these research questions have used qualitative and quantitative (both nonexperimental and experimental) methods. The qualitative studies reviewed are based on in-depth interviews with relatively few respondents; the nonexperimental quantitative studies are, for the most part, carried out with large-scale nationally representative data sets; and the experimental quantitative studies use both state administrative and welfare client survey data, and are based on random assignment designs. The effects of welfare reform on living arrangements have been examined using nonexperimental quantitative and experimental quantitative methods, while studies of the effects of living arrangements on economic well-being and resource sharing have used qualitative and nonexperimental quantitative methods.
Keywords: families and parenting, poverty and safety net
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