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Constance-Huggins, Monique (2013) TANF ENTRY AND EXIT IN THE POST WELFARE REFORM ERA: THE CONTRIBUTIONS OF HUMAN CAPITAL AND SOCIAL CAPITAL. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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The 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) dramatically transformed the United States’ welfare system. It did so by replacing the old cash system, Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), with Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). This new system is predicated on several mandates which include mandatory work in exchange for cash assistance, and a five-year lifetime limit on the receipt of cash assistance. This major restructuring resulted in greater emphasis on welfare recipients’ ability to succeed in this market economy. Specifically, it evokes greater attention to the factors that can potentially hinder or promote welfare exit.

Research has primarily emphasized human capital theory in welfare receipt and exit. Human capital pertains to an individual’s educational attainment or technical expertise that can translate into productivity within the labor market. Less research has been devoted to social capital, a concept that sheds light on the social reality in which people live. Social capital deals specifically with the advantages that are embedded in social relations than can provide economic benefits. In accordance with this definition, studies have shown that the accumulation of social capital has led to better employment outcomes. Given its importance, a view of the social capital of welfare recipients along with their human capital accumulation will help to illuminate the complexities inherent in entering and exiting welfare.

Among low income individuals, educational level does not necessarily reflect welfare status or a change in status. An important contributor to economic well-being, such as promoting TANF exit or hindering TANF entry, is social capital. However, little is known about its role in conjunction with human capital, among welfare recipients. In response to this gap, this dissertation seeks to examine the relative effects of human capital and social capital on TANF exit and entry.

This research is based on the Making Connections dataset which is part of a larger initiative by the Annie Casey Foundation to improve neighborhood social and economic opportunities. The results of this study show that social capital is an important predictor of exiting TANF, however it does not affect TANF entry. It also suggests that human capital is important for exiting TANF but does not act as a buffer against entering TANF. The implications of these findings are that welfare policy and programs should promote social capital and human capital efforts for welfare recipients.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Constance-Huggins, Moniquemac160@pitt.eduMAC160
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairEngel,
Committee MemberGreeno, Catherinekgreeno@pitt.eduKGREENO
Committee MemberWallace, Jr,, Johnjohnw@pitt.eduJOHNW
Committee MemberElliott, III,
Date: 9 May 2013
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 2 April 2013
Approval Date: 9 May 2013
Submission Date: 8 May 2013
Access Restriction: 2 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 2 years.
Number of Pages: 161
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Social Work > Social Work
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: social capital, human capital, TANF, welfare, welfare exit, welfare entry
Date Deposited: 09 May 2013 14:40
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 14:12


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