Getting Married and Exiting Welfare: The Role of Two-Parent TANF Eligibility Rules

Deborah Roempke Graefe, Pennsylvania State University
Shelley K. Irving, Pennsylvania State University
Gordon F. De Jong, Pennsylvania State University

We use the 1996 and 2001 Panels of the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) and multinomial event history models to evaluate the role of changes in union status in competing-risk transitions from TANF: 1) with employment versus 2) without a job. Results show that becoming married was significantly related to TANF exits between 1996 and 2003, and compared with single women, women who were married were more likely to transition to work than to exit TANF without employment. Stringency in state welfare eligibility policies for two-parent families also affected the likelihood of leaving TANF for employment. Effects of becoming married on TANF exits without employment are conditional on state stringency of these rules. Findings imply that relaxing two-parent rules – providing financial support for marital relationships, in turn promoting employment – is an encouraging policy approach toward achieving self-sufficiency of disadvantaged families.

  See paper

Presented in Session 90: Marriage and Public Policy