Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Human Ecology

Document Type



This research was Wave II of a longitudinal, qualitative study designed to describe the outcomes of welfare reform legislation on rural families in Louisiana as they tried to comply with provisions of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996. This particular study looked at a subset of women (n=12) from Wave II and explored two questions: (a) Whether the decline in Louisiana welfare caseloads translated into rural women finding and keeping jobs; and (b) What is the likelihood that the women employed at the time of this study will be able to sustain their work efforts and realize self-sufficiency. Human ecology, rational choice, and behavioral change theories guided this research. Whether women adapt to changed societal expectations and successfully transition from welfare dependence to self-sufficiency is dependent upon the women's micro and macro-environments and whether they can make a second-order behavioral change regarding work. Sustained second-order change requires that the women's environments must also change. One-on-one interviews were conducted with the women in their homes using a semi-structured interview approach. The data were analyzed using predictor-outcome matrices. The simple answer to whether the women had found jobs was "no," as only two (17%) of the twelve women were employed for pay. The women not employed, however, represented three distinct sets: volunteers, students, and women not engaged in any work-related activities. The volunteers and students were engaged in activities that allowed them to maintain their benefits. The second research question addressed whether the employed women would be likely to maintain their work effort and achieve self-sufficiency. This research provided evidence that these women may be likely to sustain work, but will probably not attain self-sufficiency without either altering the definition of self-sufficiency, or fundamentally restructuring the supports available to them in the socio-cultural environment. Implications for future research, policy, and programming include additional longitudinal studies on child outcomes, and policy and programming that considers the environmental factors that may assist or hinder women's transition from welfare reliance to self-sufficiency.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Pamela A. Monroe



Included in

Human Ecology Commons