Welfare reform and poverty: A latent trajectory model analysis

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

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This paper examines the effect of welfare reform policies on changes in poverty in the United States during 1992-2005. Using state-level panel data we estimate latent trajectory models to determine if welfare reform has contributed to changes in the trajectories of poverty growth (decline) beyond what would have naturally occurred through the passage of time. Our results show that (a) states vary considerably in both their mean initial level as well as trajectories of poverty; (b) welfare reform was responsible for nearly 27% of the decline in poverty during the study period; (c) the economy played a secondary role, responsible for a 10% reduction in poverty; and (d) income support policies like minimum wage and child support collection also had an important role to play, with the latter contributing as much as welfare reform to poverty reduction. Our estimates remain robust against changes in modeling strategies and methods.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationInequality, Mobility and Segregation
Subtitle of host publicationEssays in Honor of Jacques Silber
EditorsJohn Bishop, Rafael Salas
Number of pages30
StatePublished - 2012

Publication series

NameResearch on Economic Inequality
ISSN (Print)1049-2585

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


  • Latent trajectory model
  • Poverty
  • Random coefficientmodel
  • Welfare reform


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