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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: Newville, David; Ain, Joanna
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2018

    Last week, the House of Representatives passed a Farm Bill with damaging changes to SNAP (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) that could reduce or eliminate nutritional benefits for two million Americans. One critical change in the House bill is the elimination of states' ability to increase or remove savings penalties (sometimes known as asset limits), which require families to spend down their savings to a specified level before they can receive SNAP benefits. The Senate version of the bill does the opposite by protecting SNAP, including states’ abilities to increase or remove savings penalties. To provide a better understanding of what savings penalties are and why they matter, Prosperity Now has released a new policy brief, Savings Penalties Push Families Deeper into Poverty, detailing how savings penalties in public benefits programs, including SNAP, force low-income households to choose between saving for their future and getting supports for their basic needs today. (Author introduction)

    Last week, the House of Representatives passed a Farm Bill with damaging changes to SNAP (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) that could reduce or eliminate nutritional benefits for two million Americans. One critical change in the House bill is the elimination of states' ability to increase or remove savings penalties (sometimes known as asset limits), which require families to spend down their savings to a specified level before they can receive SNAP benefits. The Senate version of the bill does the opposite by protecting SNAP, including states’ abilities to increase or remove savings penalties. To provide a better understanding of what savings penalties are and why they matter, Prosperity Now has released a new policy brief, Savings Penalties Push Families Deeper into Poverty, detailing how savings penalties in public benefits programs, including SNAP, force low-income households to choose between saving for their future and getting supports for their basic needs today. (Author introduction)

  • Individual Author: Pac, Jessica; Nam, Jaehyun; Waldfogel, Jane; Wimer, Chris
    Reference Type: Journal Article
    Year: 2017

    Between 1968 and 2013, the poverty rate of young children age 0 to 5 years fell by nearly one third, in large part because of the role played by anti-poverty programs. However, young children in the U.S. still face a much higher rate of poverty than do older children in the U.S. They also continue to have a much higher poverty rate than do young children in other developed countries around the world. In this paper, we provide a detailed analysis of trends in poverty and the role of anti-poverty programs in addressing poverty among young children, using an improved measure of poverty, the Supplemental Poverty Measure. We examine changes over time and the current status, both for young children overall and for key subgroups (by child age, and by child race/ethnicity). Our findings can be summarized in three key points. First, poverty among all young children age 0–5 years has fallen since the beginning of our time series; but absent the safety net, today's poverty rate among young children would be identical to or higher than it was in 1968. Second, the safety net plays an...

    Between 1968 and 2013, the poverty rate of young children age 0 to 5 years fell by nearly one third, in large part because of the role played by anti-poverty programs. However, young children in the U.S. still face a much higher rate of poverty than do older children in the U.S. They also continue to have a much higher poverty rate than do young children in other developed countries around the world. In this paper, we provide a detailed analysis of trends in poverty and the role of anti-poverty programs in addressing poverty among young children, using an improved measure of poverty, the Supplemental Poverty Measure. We examine changes over time and the current status, both for young children overall and for key subgroups (by child age, and by child race/ethnicity). Our findings can be summarized in three key points. First, poverty among all young children age 0–5 years has fallen since the beginning of our time series; but absent the safety net, today's poverty rate among young children would be identical to or higher than it was in 1968. Second, the safety net plays an increasing role in reducing the poverty of young children, especially among Black non-Hispanic children, whose poverty rate would otherwise be 20.8 percentage points higher in 2013. Third, the composition of support has changed from virtually all cash transfers in 1968, to about one third each of cash, credit and in-kind transfers today. (Author abstract)

  • 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: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
    Reference Type: Stakeholder Resource
    Year: 2014

    Virtually all states have made basic program information on the five main state-administered low-income benefit programs — SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as Food Stamps), Medicaid, CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program), TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families), and child care assistance — available to the public via the Internet.  Many states, however, go much further, providing information such as application forms and data on the number of participants.  A number of states allow individuals to apply for benefits and transact certain related business online.  In addition to information provided for the five main state-administered low-income benefit programs, 30 states have General Assistance (GA) programs for individuals not qualifying for any other public assistance, and provide basic program information for GA online as well.   

    This paper provides links to state information available online for these benefit programs.  Individuals seeking information about eligibility and benefits in a particular state will find these links...

    Virtually all states have made basic program information on the five main state-administered low-income benefit programs — SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as Food Stamps), Medicaid, CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program), TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families), and child care assistance — available to the public via the Internet.  Many states, however, go much further, providing information such as application forms and data on the number of participants.  A number of states allow individuals to apply for benefits and transact certain related business online.  In addition to information provided for the five main state-administered low-income benefit programs, 30 states have General Assistance (GA) programs for individuals not qualifying for any other public assistance, and provide basic program information for GA online as well.   

    This paper provides links to state information available online for these benefit programs.  Individuals seeking information about eligibility and benefits in a particular state will find these links a useful place to start.  Most state human service agencies also provide phone numbers for families to seek additional information.  In addition, individuals in most states (as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico) can call 2-1-1 on any type of telephone for help finding out about many kinds of assistance, including emergency help with food, housing, or clothing; physical or mental health treatment; and assistance for the aged, people with disabilities, and families with children. (author abstract) 

  • Individual Author: Fix, Michael
    Reference Type: Book Chapter/Book
    Year: 2009

    The lore of the immigrant who comes to the United States to take advantage of our welfare system has a long history in America’s collective mythology, but it has little basis in fact. The so-called problem of immigrants on the dole was nonetheless a major concern of the 1996 welfare reform law, the impact of which is still playing out today. While legal immigrants continue to pay taxes and are eligible for the draft, welfare reform has severely limited their access to government supports in times of crisis. Edited by Michael Fix, Immigrants and Welfare rigorously assesses the welfare reform law, questions whether its immigrant provisions were ever really necessary, and examines its impact on legal immigrants’ ability to integrate into American society.

    Immigrants and Welfare draws on fields from demography and law to developmental psychology. The first part of the volume probes the politics behind the welfare reform law, its legal underpinnings, and what it may mean for integration policy. Contributor Ron Haskins makes a case for welfare reform’s ultimate success but...

    The lore of the immigrant who comes to the United States to take advantage of our welfare system has a long history in America’s collective mythology, but it has little basis in fact. The so-called problem of immigrants on the dole was nonetheless a major concern of the 1996 welfare reform law, the impact of which is still playing out today. While legal immigrants continue to pay taxes and are eligible for the draft, welfare reform has severely limited their access to government supports in times of crisis. Edited by Michael Fix, Immigrants and Welfare rigorously assesses the welfare reform law, questions whether its immigrant provisions were ever really necessary, and examines its impact on legal immigrants’ ability to integrate into American society.

    Immigrants and Welfare draws on fields from demography and law to developmental psychology. The first part of the volume probes the politics behind the welfare reform law, its legal underpinnings, and what it may mean for integration policy. Contributor Ron Haskins makes a case for welfare reform’s ultimate success but cautions that excluding noncitizen children (future workers) from benefits today will inevitably have serious repercussions for the American economy down the road. Michael Wishnie describes the implications of the law for equal protection of immigrants under the U.S. Constitution.

    The second part of the book focuses on empirical research regarding immigrants’ propensity to use benefits before the law passed, and immigrants’ use and hardship levels afterwards. Jennifer Van Hook and Frank Bean analyze immigrants’ benefit use before the law was passed in order to address the contested sociological theories that immigrants are inclined to welfare use and that it slows their assimilation. Randy Capps, Michael Fix, and Everett Henderson track trends before and after welfare reform in legal immigrants’ use of the major federal benefit programs affected by the law. Leighton Ku looks specifically at trends in food stamps and Medicaid use among noncitizen children and adults and documents the declining health insurance coverage of noncitizen parents and children. Finally, Ariel Kalil and Danielle Crosby use longitudinal data from Chicago to examine the health of children in immigrant families that left welfare.

    Even though few states took the federal government’s invitation with the 1996 welfare reform law to completely freeze legal immigrants out of the social safety net, many of the law’s most far-reaching provisions remain in place and have significant implications for immigrants. Immigrants and Welfare takes a balanced look at the politics and history of immigrant access to safety-net supports and the ongoing impacts of welfare. (author abstract) 

    Table of Contents

    Chapter 1: Immigrants and Welfare: Overview - Michael Fix, Randy Capps, and Neeraj Kaushal

    Part I - Political and Legal Context

    Chapter 2: Limiting Welfare Benefits for Noncitizens: Emergence of Compromises - Ron Haskins

    Chapter 3: Welfare Reform after a Decade: Integration, Exclusion, and Immigration Federalism - Michael Wishnie

    Part II - Trends in Benefit Use and Reform's Impacts

    Chapter 4: Immigrant Welfare Receipt: Implications for Immigrant Settlement and Integration - Jennifer Van Hook and Frank Bean

    Chapter 5: Trends in Immigrants' Use of Public Assistance after Welfare Reform - Randy Capps, Michael Fix, and Everett Henderson

    Chapter 6: Changes in Immigrants' Use of Medicaid and Food Stamps: The Role of Eligibility and Other Factors - Leighton Ku

    Chapter 7: Welfare-Leaving and Child Health and Behavior in Immigrant and Native Families - Ariel Kalil and Danielle Crosby

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