Will workfare work? Job availability for welfare recipients in rural and urban America

Leif Jensen, Yoshimi Chitose

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Ongoing concern over welfare dependency has stimulated the US Government to enact welfare reform legislation that features work requirements. Under the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, millions of able-bodied welfare recipients will now be expected to find work within two years. We analyze data from the March 1994 Current Population Survey to address the neglected question of whether a sufficient number of jobs will be available for those looking for work. Using two methods to estimate job availability, and a variety of assumptions about which welfare recipients will be required to work, we estimate that as few as 18 and as many as 54 welfare recipients and other unemployed individuals would be competing for each available job. Separate analyses by residence provided equivocal evidence on whether metropolitan or nonmetropolitan welfare recipients will have the more difficult time finding gainful employment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)383-395
Number of pages13
JournalPopulation Research and Policy Review
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1997

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Demography
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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