DEBUNKING WELFARE MYTHS: FACTORS THAT LEAD LOW-INCOME WOMEN TO PARTICIPATE IN GOVERNMENT PROGRAMS

Author: Gabrielle Minassian Faculty Mentors: Susan Averett and Michelle Geoffrion-Vinci Department: Economics Institution: Lafayette College Institutional Address: 730 High St, Easton, PA 18042

According to the US Census Bureau, the official poverty rate as of 2015 is 13.5 percent; yet, 21.2 percent of the population receives benefits from a means-tested federal program. Using a case-study approach, I examine the determinants of participation in federal programs aimed at supporting mothers and children living in low-income communities to understand the discrepancy between eligible and active welfare participants. In the United States, the federal government sponsors welfare programs that are implemented by state legislatures with the overall goal of reducing inequalities that exist throughout the country. These programs were created specifically to increase the economic wellbeing of single-mothers and to improve the quality of their children’s lives, ultimately lifting them out of poverty. The government programs of interest in this study are the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC); Medicaid; Supplemental Nutrition Aid Program (SNAP or better known as Food Stamps); Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF); and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), as they cover a wide range of the most fundamental insecurities faced by low-income mothers. To examine what influences the decision to enroll in any number of these programs, I will conduct a survey of mothers who reside at a local shelter in Easton, Pennsylvania, evaluating the following determinants: (i) English as a second language, (ii) family structure, (iii) the parent’s highest levels of educational attainment, (iv) food security, (v) the presence of social networks, (vi) residential instability, and (vii) access to information about program options that their state offers. These results will have implications for the effectiveness and design of means-tested federal programs.


Additional Abstract Information

Presenter: Gabrielle Minassian

Institution: Lafayette College

Type: Oral

Subject: Economics

Status: Approved


Time and Location

Session: Oral 4
Date/Time: Thu 3:40pm-4:00pm
Location: Fogelman Classroom Building 127
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