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Office of News and Information
Johns Hopkins University
3003 N. Charles Street, Suite 100
Baltimore, Maryland 21218-3843
Phone: (410) 516-7160 | Fax (410) 516-5251

September 5, 2000
CONTACT: Glenn Small

A Closer Look at Welfare Reform
Certain Groups Left Behind in Push to Employ

Of those who have left the rolls since welfare reform took effect, the people 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 at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, 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.

"The most dramatic finding in my view is that the poverty rate for women without a high school degree or equivalent is 91 percent, compared to a 64 percent poverty rate for those who have a degree or equivalent," said Moffitt.

The study found that 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 policymakers 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," said Moffitt. "It should have an impact on the way policy is developed."

Moffitt and co-author Jennifer Roff, also of Johns Hopkins, used data from an ambitious three-city study underway since 1998. With researchers from Hopkins, Harvard, Penn State University, Northwestern and the University of Texas, it aims to discover the effects of welfare reform on poor families.

A copy of the study is online at www.jhu.edu/~welfare/welfare_publication.html.

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