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Participation of Mothers in Government Assistance Programs: 2004

Written by:
Report Number P70-116


This report focuses on the fertility and socioeconomic characteristics of mothers in 2004 related to participation in six public assistance programs: Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF); food stamps; Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC); Medicaid; housing assistance; and other assistance. It continues the series of reports that began in 1993 and were revised in 1996 and 2001.1

The data come from Wave 2 of the 2004 Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP), which was conducted from June through September 2004. This report provides a long-range view of the participation of mothers in these programs since the 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) was enacted.2 Some of the goals outlined in PRWORA were reducing unwed births, teen pregnancy, and welfare caseloads, as well as increasing work, marriage, and child support.

The law also restricted public benefits for the foreign born. There is considerable debate about whether or not welfare reform has been a success.3

The SIPP data represent program participation at one point in time. They do not represent annual caseloads or the total number of people who may have participated in these programs at any time during the year, which is typically what is shown in the administrative data compiled by agencies overseeing their programs.4

This report focuses on the fertility differences among women in their childbearing years—15 to 44 years old in 2004. This report begins by giving an overview of mothers’ participation in government programs over time. The next section shows characteristics of mothers by program participation and fertility status. Two basic groups are shown—women who had at least one child (mothers) and those who never had a child. Within this group of mothers, a further distinction is made by those who had a recent birth (within 1 year of the interview date) and those who had not had a child within a year of the survey. Lastly, the report shows the results of a multivariate analysis of program participation among mothers.

1 Amara Bachu, Mothers Who Receive AFDC Payments, Mothers Who Receive WIC Payments, and Mothers Who Receive Food Stamps, U.S. Census Bureau, Washington, DC, 1995; Jane L. Dye, Fertility and Program Participation in the United States: 1996, P70-82, U.S. Census Bureau, Washington, DC, 2002, <www.census.gov/prod/2002pubs/p70-82.pdf>; and Terry A. Lugaila, Participation of Mothers in Government Assistance Programs: 2001, P70-102, U.S. Census Bureau, Washington, DC, 2005, <www.census.gov/prod/2005pubs/p70-102.pdf>.

2 U.S. Congress, Public Law 104-193. H.R. 3734, 1996.

3 For examples of the views about welfare reform see: The Urban Institute <www.urban.org>, The Brookings Institution <www.brookings.edu>, and The American Enterprise Institute <www.aei.org>.

4 The population represented (the population universe) is the civilian noninstitutionalized population living in the United States. Differences may be noted between estimates of program participation shown in this report and estimates presented in reports from agencies that administer these programs. In addition to different universe definitions (this analysis includes only women 15 to 44 years old), the SIPP data are based on participation at one point in time rather than total participation in a calendar year. Administrative data may include people multiple times as they enroll, leave, and reenroll in a program over the course of a year. In addition to these differences, reports of program participation from surveys may be affected by different names of programs in different states and by inaccuracies or omissions made by the household respondent for other members of the household in the survey.

Additional File Formats

Additional file formats can be accessed in our archives.

Source and Accuracy

Below is the Source and Accuracy information from the Survey of Income and Program Participation:

Wave 2

Page Last Revised - October 8, 2021
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