Welfare Reform in Philadelphia: Implementation, Effects, and Experiences of Poor Families and Neighborhoods

272 Pages Posted: 17 Jan 2016

Date Written: January 1, 2003

Abstract

The 1996 welfare reform law called for profound changes in welfare policy, including a five-year time limit on federally funded cash assistance (known as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or TANF), stricter work requirements, and greater flexibility for states in designing and managing programs. The law's supporters hoped that it would spark innovation and reduce welfare use; critics feared that it would lead to cuts in benefits and to widespread suffering. Whether the reform succeeds or fails depends largely on what happens in big cities, where poverty and welfare receipt are most concentrated. This report - one of a series from MDRC's Project on Devolution and Urban Change - examines the specific ways in which reform unfolded in Philadelphia. The study uses field research, state records, surveys and ethnographic interviews of welfare recipients, and indicators of social and economic trends to assess TANF's implementation and effects. Because of the strong economy and ample funding for services in the late 1990s, the study captures welfare reform in the best of times but focuses on the poorest families and neighborhoods.

Suggested Citation

Michalopoulos, Charles and Edin, Kathryn and Fink, Barbara and Landriscina, Mirella and Polit, Denise and Polyne, Judy and Richburg-Hayes, Lashawn and Seith, David C. and Verma, Nandita, Welfare Reform in Philadelphia: Implementation, Effects, and Experiences of Poor Families and Neighborhoods (January 1, 2003). NYU Wagner Research Paper No. 2717015, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2717015 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2717015

Charles Michalopoulos (Contact Author)

MDRC - Welfare Reform ( email )

19th Floor
16 East 34th St.
New York, NY 10016-4326
United States
703-231-5942 (Phone)

Kathryn Edin

Johns Hopkins University ( email )

Baltimore, MD 20036-1984
United States

Barbara Fink

Independent

No Address Available
United States

Mirella Landriscina

Independent

No Address Available
United States

Denise Polit

Independent

No Address Available
United States

Judy Polyne

Independent

No Address Available
United States

Lashawn Richburg-Hayes

MDRC ( email )

200 Vesey Street
New York, NY 10281
United States

David C. Seith

MDRC ( email )

200 Vesey Street
10281
United States

Nandita Verma

MDRC ( email )

200 Vesey Street
10281
United States

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