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State TANF Policy Trends and the Emerging Geography of Vulnerability (WP-06-15)

Juan Onésimo Sandoval

This working paper examines declining welfare rates from 1996 to 2000 at the state level. The author examines the role that state policies might have had on welfare rates. He examines 18 state policies that might have been implemented. Sandoval’s data suggest that four different regimes for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) emerged after the passage of the 1996 welfare-to-work act. He refers to these regimes as: Social Investment, Social Reform, Social Retrenchment, and Social Disinvestment. His data suggest that states that adopted punitive TANF policies, on average, had welfare recipients that were black or Hispanic, and states that adopted more liberal TANF policies were the states that tended to have a homogeneous white welfare population. His data also show that the states that had the largest decline in welfare rates did not all adopt Social Disinvestment-type policies.

Juan Onésimo Sandoval, Department of Sociology

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