Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Document Type



The decline in welfare rolls coupled with the increase in work activity among former recipients since the mid-nineties might indicate that welfare reform legislation has been a success. This is only part of the story describing the impact of welfare reform. Although many have exited the rolls, a significant number still have not found work, others remain on aid, and some struggle through the transition relying on a combination of welfare and work. Even those who fit the narrow definition of "success" and have left welfare for formal employment experience significant hardship. Overall, regardless of work and welfare status, most remain in poverty. This study examines the impact of welfare reform in Louisiana by analyzing the determinants of group classification in the welfare-to-work transition. I analyze data from the Louisiana Welfare Panel Survey to determine the factors that place recipients into one of four groups based on welfare and work status: work only, welfare only, work and welfare, no work or welfare. Next I use this same data to analyze how placement into each of the four groups impacts two well-being outcomes: relationship to the poverty level and material hardships. Finally, I report the findings from in-depth qualitative interviews with a select subsample of these respondents to gauge their survival strategies, vulnerability to hardships, and experiences with welfare reform policy. The findings indicate that individual-level factors such as education, being African American, and having good health are important in determining work/welfare group location. Different types of social support are also key in determining whether one remains on aid, exits for work, or exits without work. Group location, along with household structure and certain individual factors, influences relationship to poverty level and vulnerability to material hardships. Based on my findings, I discuss policy implications and contributions to theories of poverty.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Joachim Singelmann



Included in

Sociology Commons