Cash is Still King? TANF Effective Benefit Guarantees, Tax Rates, and Participation, 2000-2016

Posted: 19 Aug 2018

See all articles by Erik Hembre

Erik Hembre

University of Illinois at Chicago - Department of Economics

Date Written: July 30, 2018

Abstract

The role of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) in the US social safety net has dropped considerably as caseloads have declined sixty percent since 2000. This paper measures the evolution TANF by estimating effective benefit guarantee levels, tax rates, and participation rates between 2000 and 2016. Administrative TANF data reveal that effective benefit guarantees for single-parent families decreased by 24 percent on average between 2000 and 2016 while earned and unearned tax rates decreased slightly. American Community Survey data show effective welfare benefit guarantees dropped only 14 percent and display reduced cross-state benefit inequality. Effective welfare participation has decreased alongside TANF caseload reductions, verifying that reduced caseloads are not due to increased earnings or family composition changes. As of 2016, only fourteen percent of single-parent households without earnings received cash assistance. However, the phase-out of participation with respect to earned income has decreased by half over this time period.

Keywords: public assistance programs, tax benefits

JEL Classification: H53

Suggested Citation

Hembre, Erik, Cash is Still King? TANF Effective Benefit Guarantees, Tax Rates, and Participation, 2000-2016 (July 30, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3218605 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3218605

Erik Hembre (Contact Author)

University of Illinois at Chicago - Department of Economics ( email )

725 University Hall (UH)
Chicago, IL 60607-7121
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.ssc.wisc.edu/~hembre/

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