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The Employment, Earnings, and Income of Single Mothers in Wisconsin Who Left Cash Assistance: Comparisons among Three Cohorts

  • Maria Cancian, Robert Haveman, Daniel R. Meyer, and Barbara Wolfe
  • January 2003
  • SR85
  • Link to sr85 (PDF)

The authors use administrative data from Wisconsin to compare employment, earnings, and income outcomes for welfare leavers under early AFDC reforms and under the later, more stringent TANF program. We consider outcomes for women leaving welfare in 1999, updating an earlier analysis of those who left welfare in 1995 and 1997. We find substantially higher rates of exit in the later periods. Later leavers are somewhat more likely to work, but their earnings are lower. We also make a pre-post comparison of individual employment and income experiences, examining a leaver’s outcomes during a calendar quarter of welfare receipt with these outcomes a year after leaving welfare.

On average, substantial earnings growth is outweighed by declines in benefits, resulting in reduced total measured net income. The reductions in income from before to after exit are greater for those in the 1995 cohort relative to those in the 1997 and 1999 cohorts.


Economic Support, Employment, Labor Market, Low-Wage Work, WI Administrative Data Core


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