An evaluation of the ability of mandatory work programs to reduce welfare caseloads
This research examines the relationship between mandatory work programs and welfare caseloads. The purpose is to determine if workfare reduces welfare caseloads and if so why workfare is effective and in what environments it is most effective. The focus of the study is the Community Work Experience Program (CWEP) and the Aid for Families With Dependent Children (AFDC) population. CWEP, authorized in 1981, gave the states permission to require AFDC recipients to "work off" their welfare grant. Two different populations are examined: an interstate model that compares CWEP-states with non-CWEP states and an intrastate model that compares CWEP counties and non-CWEP counties in Ohio. Quarterly data from 1981 to 1986 were collected for each state and county. Multiple regression is used to test the association between CWEP and AFDC caseloads, controlling for important political, programmatic, demographic and economic variables. AFDC applications and terminations are analyzed to examine if CWEP's effectiveness is caused by deterrence or work experience. A reduction in applications suggests deterrence. A long-term increase in termination suggests work experience. A series of slope dummy variables are used to determine the impact of political, programmatic and demographic variables on CWEP's effectiveness. The research showed that CWEP was associated with a reduction in AFDC caseloads. The most impressive results were in the Ohio study, where average over the implementation period, AFDC caseloads were found to decrease by 3.5 percent and AFDC-U caseloads by 16.7 percent. The results were much higher by the third year of implementation, suggesting that the long-term impact of CWEP is much higher than the average impact. The national findings showed a 12.4 decrease in AFDC-U caseloads but no change in AFDC caseloads. The Ohio findings also indicated that work experience was the primary reason for the program's success. There were no statistically significant findings indicating that CWEP was a deterrent to welfare. The national findings were inconclusive. In both the Ohio and national studies, CWEP was more effective in Republican and conservative jurisdictions. Programmatic and demographic variables were also associated with CWEP's success, but the political variables had the greatest impact.