Of the people taken off public assistance because of welfare reform time limits, those having the hardest time finding and keeping jobs are women with young children, in poor health and lacking education, a study of 2,500 families with children in Boston, Chicago and San Antonio has found.
Robert Moffitt, a professor of economics in the School of Arts and Sciences, studied data produced by the three-city study and found that while 63 percent of women leaving welfare were employed, there were wide variations within that group.
For instance, 79 percent of women with a high school diploma or GED were employed compared to 61 percent for those without such training. And women in good health were employed 82 percent of the time, compared to 61 percent for those in fair or poor health.
In his study, Moffitt suggests that these disparities should be taken seriously by policy-makers when considering further reforms to assist those who have struggled to support themselves after leaving welfare.
"A number of studies have examined overall employment rates for welfare leavers, but this is the first study to look at the differences within the groups," Moffitt said. "It should have an impact on the way policy is developed."
Moffitt and co-author Jennifer Roff, a doctoral candidate in the Economics Department, used data from an ambitious three-city study under way since 1998. With researchers from Hopkins, Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania, Northwestern and the University of Texas, the study aims to look closely at 2,500 families with children from poor neighborhoods in Boston, Chicago and San Antonio to discover the effects of welfare reform on these families.
A copy of the study is online at www.jhu.edu/~welfare/welfare_publication.html.