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The SSRC Library allows visitors to access materials related to self-sufficiency programs, practice and research. Visitors can view common search terms, conduct a keyword search or create a custom search using any combination of the filters at the left side of this page. To conduct a keyword search, type a term or combination of terms into the search box below, select whether you want to search the exact phrase or the words in any order, and click on the blue button to the right of the search box to view relevant results.

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  • Individual Author: Fusaro, Vincent A.
    Reference Type: Thesis
    Year: 2017

    Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), the program created by welfare reform in 1996, is implemented as a fixed federal block grant that states partially match through a "Maintenance of Effort" contribution. States can use funds in support of any of the four goals of reform: ending dependence on public support through work and marriage, promoting the formation and maintenance of two-parent families, reducing the incidence of out-of-wedlock births, and facilitating care of children in their own homes. Rather than a cash assistance program, TANF is a funding stream states partially use for cash assistance. Traditional welfare now only constitutes approximately one-quarter of TANF expenditures, though the fraction varies widely by state. Most research on state TANF implementation, however, examines the requirements and activities associated with cash assistance receipt. This dissertation comprises three studies intended to better align welfare scholarship with the contemporary form of TANF. The first study examines state TANF cash assistance expenditures and change in...

    Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), the program created by welfare reform in 1996, is implemented as a fixed federal block grant that states partially match through a "Maintenance of Effort" contribution. States can use funds in support of any of the four goals of reform: ending dependence on public support through work and marriage, promoting the formation and maintenance of two-parent families, reducing the incidence of out-of-wedlock births, and facilitating care of children in their own homes. Rather than a cash assistance program, TANF is a funding stream states partially use for cash assistance. Traditional welfare now only constitutes approximately one-quarter of TANF expenditures, though the fraction varies widely by state. Most research on state TANF implementation, however, examines the requirements and activities associated with cash assistance receipt. This dissertation comprises three studies intended to better align welfare scholarship with the contemporary form of TANF. The first study examines state TANF cash assistance expenditures and change in expenditures over time using multilevel growth curve models and a sample of all states from 1998 to 2013. I express expenditures as a per-family-in-poverty expense and as a percentage of overall TANF spending. Predictors include a number of political, social, and economic factors. I pay particular attention to the role of race in state politics. In contrast to many earlier studies, which operationalize the salience of race using welfare caseload or population demographics, I create a state-level measure of the prevalence of white stereotyping of blacks. I find that a larger proportion of whites expressing negative views of blacks is related to reduced basic assistance effort but not to rate of change in effort. Additionally, fiscal distress is associated with lower cash assistance effort. In the second study I investigate influences on categorical uses of TANF funds from 2000 to 2013. For categories of expenditures, such as work activities and supportive services, in which almost all states expend resources in almost all years, I estimate multilevel linear models of spending, again expressed both as percentages of total effort and as per-family-in-poverty expenditures. For categories with less consistent spending, I estimate logistic regression models of the probability of a state spending in the category in 2001, 2006, and 2012. I once again find a relationship between prevalence of negative stereotypes of blacks among whites and basic assistance spending. It is also related to the probability of a state using resources for pregnancy prevention or two-parent family support. Fiscal stress is associated with a higher probability of a state transferring funds to the Social Services Block Grant. Finally, the third study considers the consequences of the decline of cash assistance for low-income families. Using data from the Current Population Survey Food Security Supplement (2001-2013), I model food insecurity in low-income households as a function of state cash assistance coverage (ratio of TANF cases to low-income families). Higher coverage is associated with a reduced risk of food insecurity, particularly for households headed by a single female with no other adults. Coverage is generally not related to the presence of an employed adult in the household, however. Tying economic relief to the low-wage labor market, while having beneficial effects for some, has also increased the risk of material hardship in the most vulnerable households. Market-oriented policy may have limits as a safety net of last resort. (Author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Martin, Erica
    Reference Type: Thesis
    Year: 2016

    Domestic violence is a vast social problem of considerable importance in the United States. It is more than a social problem; it is an economic problem as well due to the loss of productivity from abused victims. Based on a review of prior literature, a gap has been identified where virtually no spatial analysis has estimated accessibility or spatial matching of resources for victims of domestic violence. Accordingly, this paper will focus on analyzing if there is a spatial mismatch occurring between shelter resources and domestic violence victims, analyzing accessibility to these resources for victims, and on measuring the total cost or efficiency loss due to mismatches that are occurring.

    Strong links exist between rates of domestic violence and poverty, when combined with the shifting of the geography of poverty over the past decade, raises the question of whether resources are located efficiently and equitably to those in need. Since shelter locations are immobile it is important to analyze their distribution, especially since they place a key role in the outcomes for...

    Domestic violence is a vast social problem of considerable importance in the United States. It is more than a social problem; it is an economic problem as well due to the loss of productivity from abused victims. Based on a review of prior literature, a gap has been identified where virtually no spatial analysis has estimated accessibility or spatial matching of resources for victims of domestic violence. Accordingly, this paper will focus on analyzing if there is a spatial mismatch occurring between shelter resources and domestic violence victims, analyzing accessibility to these resources for victims, and on measuring the total cost or efficiency loss due to mismatches that are occurring.

    Strong links exist between rates of domestic violence and poverty, when combined with the shifting of the geography of poverty over the past decade, raises the question of whether resources are located efficiently and equitably to those in need. Since shelter locations are immobile it is important to analyze their distribution, especially since they place a key role in the outcomes for victims and in reducing costs associated with domestic violence.

    This research combines knowledge in economics with spatial analysis and Geographic Information System (GIS) capabilities, and offers an improved understanding of this contemporary social problem. Improved methodologies such as the Enhanced Two-Step Floating Catchment Area method as well as other spatial tools bring new insights to the issue. The policy implications can potentially improve the distribution of resources for domestic violence victims as well as guide public policy decisions regarding shelter placement and other social welfare resources. (Author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Moffett, Erin
    Reference Type: Thesis
    Year: 2016

    Childhood obesity is a serious crisis in the United States and is disproportionately affecting minorities. Compared to only 28.5% of white adolescents, 38.9% of Hispanic adolescents are overweight or obese indicating a need for immediate action. As parents are the primary decision makers of their children’s dietary intakes, it is necessary to understand what food choices parents are making for themselves and their children and what factors are influencing this relationship. As part of a larger cross-sectional study, this investigation aimed to understand the dietary intakes of 31 Hispanic mother-child dyads in Southern Chester County Pennsylvania. Twenty-four hour dietary recalls were used to measure dietary intakes among the population and bivariate analysis and regression modeling methods were used to assess the relationship between mother and child diet. The dietary intakes and mother-child diet similarity were then examined with respect to acculturation, food security, and participation in food assistance programs. Consistent with previous findings, Hispanic children and...

    Childhood obesity is a serious crisis in the United States and is disproportionately affecting minorities. Compared to only 28.5% of white adolescents, 38.9% of Hispanic adolescents are overweight or obese indicating a need for immediate action. As parents are the primary decision makers of their children’s dietary intakes, it is necessary to understand what food choices parents are making for themselves and their children and what factors are influencing this relationship. As part of a larger cross-sectional study, this investigation aimed to understand the dietary intakes of 31 Hispanic mother-child dyads in Southern Chester County Pennsylvania. Twenty-four hour dietary recalls were used to measure dietary intakes among the population and bivariate analysis and regression modeling methods were used to assess the relationship between mother and child diet. The dietary intakes and mother-child diet similarity were then examined with respect to acculturation, food security, and participation in food assistance programs. Consistent with previous findings, Hispanic children and women were not meeting most recommended dietary intakes and are experiencing high rates of overweight and obesity, with 42% of children and 81% of mothers in this sample classified as overweight or obese. Overall, our study found that the diets of the mothers had minimal modeling effects on the diets of their children (majority of p > 0.05), and that the diets of the children were mainly constrained by food availability. Future interventions should focus on increasing access and availability of healthy foods to low income and immigrant families. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Bailey, Andrea Leigh
    Reference Type: Thesis
    Year: 2015

    The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Economic Research Service estimates that 23.5 million people live in food deserts, over half of which are considered low-income residents. Accurately defining a food desert is crucial as the designated areas can benefit from grant opportunities and funding priority. To qualify as an urban food desert, the USDA requires that at least 500 residents or one-third of the population live outside a one-mile buffer from a supermarket as well as have a median income of less than 80% of the area average or a poverty rate of greater than 20%. Approaches in the literature to identify low accessibility areas (food deserts) include simple spatial analyses, travel cost models, grocery cost models, and activity-based models. Although using cost as a measure of access is beneficial, the travel cost components are ill-defined, especially for transit. Additionally, defining food deserts as a ratio of travel cost to median household income may more accurately reflect areas with poor accessibility to healthy food by utilizing a combined measure...

    The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Economic Research Service estimates that 23.5 million people live in food deserts, over half of which are considered low-income residents. Accurately defining a food desert is crucial as the designated areas can benefit from grant opportunities and funding priority. To qualify as an urban food desert, the USDA requires that at least 500 residents or one-third of the population live outside a one-mile buffer from a supermarket as well as have a median income of less than 80% of the area average or a poverty rate of greater than 20%. Approaches in the literature to identify low accessibility areas (food deserts) include simple spatial analyses, travel cost models, grocery cost models, and activity-based models. Although using cost as a measure of access is beneficial, the travel cost components are ill-defined, especially for transit. Additionally, defining food deserts as a ratio of travel cost to median household income may more accurately reflect areas with poor accessibility to healthy food by utilizing a combined measure instead of distinct income and access components.

    This paper develops a cost surface for auto, transit, and walking to determine the average travel cost to the nearest supermarket for each mode in Indianapolis using Spatial Analyst in ArcGIS 10.2. Given the results from ArcGIS, spatial lag models are used to model the proportion of household income spent on traveling to supermarkets as a function of socioeconomic variables. The results show that a higher crime density, no college degree, and living outside of I-465 are all correlated with poorer accessibility to healthy food. These explanatory variables had similar effects for driving and walking, but the transit network was less sensitive to education and crime and more location-dependent. For this study, working with the police department and community to reduce crime as well as expanding the transit network are both recommended as potential interventions. Results from this analysis can provide valuable insight into the reasons behind the existence of food deserts. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Rachidi, Angel Kay Sheehan
    Reference Type: Thesis
    Year: 2015

    A great deal of literature concludes that national welfare reform in the late 1990s led to improvements in unmarried mother employment and earnings, but less is known about how TANF policy variations at the state level and job type affect these outcomes. This study uses hierarchical linear modeling and a recently released longitudinal dataset on unmarried mothers to estimate the effect that state level TANF policies and job type have on the employment rate and long-term (nine year) post-childbirth earnings for a cohort of unmarried mothers who gave birth in 1998-2000. The study hypothesizes that strict TANF policies (i.e., low benefit levels and full family sanctions) lead to higher relative employment and long-term earnings, but that these gains are limited to unmarried mothers who work in certain "high quality" jobs. The results found no support for the belief that stricter TANF policies benefit the employment and long-term earnings of unmarried mothers as a whole, but there was support for the hypothesis that certain job types (i.e., professional/managerial and administrative...

    A great deal of literature concludes that national welfare reform in the late 1990s led to improvements in unmarried mother employment and earnings, but less is known about how TANF policy variations at the state level and job type affect these outcomes. This study uses hierarchical linear modeling and a recently released longitudinal dataset on unmarried mothers to estimate the effect that state level TANF policies and job type have on the employment rate and long-term (nine year) post-childbirth earnings for a cohort of unmarried mothers who gave birth in 1998-2000. The study hypothesizes that strict TANF policies (i.e., low benefit levels and full family sanctions) lead to higher relative employment and long-term earnings, but that these gains are limited to unmarried mothers who work in certain "high quality" jobs. The results found no support for the belief that stricter TANF policies benefit the employment and long-term earnings of unmarried mothers as a whole, but there was support for the hypothesis that certain job types (i.e., professional/managerial and administrative support) are related to better long-term earnings. The implications suggest that for unmarried mothers with a recent birth, the strictness of TANF policies at the state level are of little importance, but that efforts to improve the types of jobs in which they work are important. (author abstract)

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