This paper uses data from the 1990 and 1996 Survey of Income and Program Participation to assess whether changes in welfare policy affected welfare entry rates. It also assesses whether changes in entry rates are accompanied by improvements in the circumstances of families that choose not to receive welfare. The authors conclude that policy shifts and changes in attitudes toward work and welfare are the most likely explanations for the drop in welfare entry rates. The bulk of the change came after the implementation of welfare reform. Declining entry rates are not accompanied by substantial improvements in the well-being of low-income single mothers who are not on welfare.
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