Assessing the Impact of Welfare Reform on Single Mothers

Brookings Institution Press
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, 2004, 1 pp. 1 - 116
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THE PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA), signed into law in 1996, transformed the U.S. welfare system. PRWORA replaced the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program with Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). Since its inception in 1935 as part of the Social Security Act, AFDC had been the main welfare program providing assistance to low-income single mothers. But a number of factors, particularly the rapid growth in the never-married single-mother population and a resumption of growth in caseloads in the early 1990s (following the surge of the late 1960s and early 1970s; figure 1), rendered the program unpopular.1 Under the new TANF program, welfare participation among single mothers has dropped dramatically, from 25 percent in 1996 to 9 percent today.
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