Economic Snapshot | Budget, Taxes, and Public Investment

Hardships suffered by welfare families

A weekly presentation of downloadable charts and short analyses designed to graphically illustrate important economic issues. Updated every Wednesday.

Snapshot for June 20, 2001.

Hardships suffered by welfare families
When a family is unable to meet its basic needs, such as not having enough food to eat, being evicted from their home, or not getting needed medical care, these families face what we call critical hardships. These kinds of hardships indicate that a family’s income level cannot support basic needs critical for survival. Working families, however, can also suffer serious hardships, which occur when they lack goods and services necessary to support a safe and decent standard of living. Serious hardships include lack of access to regular preventative medical care; lack of accessible and quality childcare; lack of affordable and stable housing; and worrying about having adequate food.

People with critical and serious hardships by welfare history and work status

Families that left welfare (AFDC) within the past year experience slightly higher rates of both critical and serious hardships than families that left welfare more than a year ago. However, with the exception of families who left welfare over a year ago who have a full-time worker, neither experienced lower rates of hardship than all families living below poverty. This indicates that even families that have successfully left welfare still have trouble meeting basic needs.

This week’s Snapshot by EPI economist Heather Boushey and research fellow Bethney Gundersen.

To learn more about family hardships, read EPI’s Briefing Paper, When Work Just Isn’t Enough.

Check out the archive for past Economic Snapshots.