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  • Individual Author: Jones, Maggie R.; Ziliak, James P.
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2019

    Evaluations of the EITC, including its antipoverty effectiveness, are based on simulated EITC benefits using either the Census Bureau’s tax module or from external tax simulators such as the National Bureau of Economic Research’s TAXSIM or Jon Bakija’s model. Each simulator utilizes model-based assumptions on who is and who is not eligible for the EITC, and conditional on eligibility, assumes that participation is 100 percent. However, recent evidence suggests that take-up of the EITC is considerably less than 100 percent, and thus claims regarding the impact of the program on measures of poverty may be overstated. We use data from the Current Population Survey Annual Social and Economic Supplement (CPS ASEC) linked to IRS tax data on the EITC to compare the distribution of EITC benefits from three tax simulation modules to administrative tax records. We find that significantly more actual EITC payments flow to childless tax units than predicted by the tax simulators, and to those whose family income places then well above official poverty thresholds. However, actual EITC...

    Evaluations of the EITC, including its antipoverty effectiveness, are based on simulated EITC benefits using either the Census Bureau’s tax module or from external tax simulators such as the National Bureau of Economic Research’s TAXSIM or Jon Bakija’s model. Each simulator utilizes model-based assumptions on who is and who is not eligible for the EITC, and conditional on eligibility, assumes that participation is 100 percent. However, recent evidence suggests that take-up of the EITC is considerably less than 100 percent, and thus claims regarding the impact of the program on measures of poverty may be overstated. We use data from the Current Population Survey Annual Social and Economic Supplement (CPS ASEC) linked to IRS tax data on the EITC to compare the distribution of EITC benefits from three tax simulation modules to administrative tax records. We find that significantly more actual EITC payments flow to childless tax units than predicted by the tax simulators, and to those whose family income places then well above official poverty thresholds. However, actual EITC payments appear to be target efficient at the individual tax unit level, whether correctly paid or not. We then compare the antipoverty impact of the EITC across the survey and administrative tax measures of EITC benefits. We find that in the full CPS ASEC the tax simulators overestimate the antipoverty effects of the EITC by about 1.8 million persons in a typical year. Restricting to a harmonized sample of filers, we find that the antipoverty estimates derived from the TAXSIM and Bakija models align more closely to actual EITC payments compared to the CPS, suggesting a discrepancy in assignment of tax filers between the tax simulators. (Author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Shaefer, H. Luke ; Edin, Kathryn ; Fusaro, Vincent ; Wu, Pinghui
    Reference Type: Journal Article
    Year: 2019

    Since the early 1990s, the social safety net for families with children in the United States has undergone an epochal transformation. Aid to poor working families has become more generous. In contrast, assistance to the deeply poor has declined sharply, and what remains often takes the form of in-kind aid. A historical view finds that this dramatic change mirrors others. For centuries, the nature and form of poor relief has been driven in part by shifting cultural notions of which social groups constitute the “deserving” and “undeserving” poor. This line was firmly redrawn in the 1990s. Did the re-institutionalization of these categorizations in policy have material consequences? In this study, we examine the relationship between the decline of traditional cash welfare during the 2001-2015 period and two direct measures of wellbeing among households with children: household food insecurity and public school child homelessness. Using models that control for state and year trends, along with other factors, we find that the decline of cash assistance is associated with increases in...

    Since the early 1990s, the social safety net for families with children in the United States has undergone an epochal transformation. Aid to poor working families has become more generous. In contrast, assistance to the deeply poor has declined sharply, and what remains often takes the form of in-kind aid. A historical view finds that this dramatic change mirrors others. For centuries, the nature and form of poor relief has been driven in part by shifting cultural notions of which social groups constitute the “deserving” and “undeserving” poor. This line was firmly redrawn in the 1990s. Did the re-institutionalization of these categorizations in policy have material consequences? In this study, we examine the relationship between the decline of traditional cash welfare during the 2001-2015 period and two direct measures of wellbeing among households with children: household food insecurity and public school child homelessness. Using models that control for state and year trends, along with other factors, we find that the decline of cash assistance is associated with increases in these two forms of hardship. (Author abstract) 

  • Individual Author: Ziliak, James P.
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2018

    This aim of this paper is to assess the economic status of rural people five decades after publication of President Johnson's National Commission on Rural Poverty report The People Left Behind. Using data from the Annual Social and Economic Supplement of the CPS, along with county data from the Regional Economic Information System, I focus on how changes in employment, wages, and the social safety net have influenced the evolution of poverty and inequality in rural and urban places. The evidence shows that large numbers of rural Americans are disengaged from the labor market, gains in human capital attainment have stagnated, and the retreat from marriage continues for the medium- and less-skilled individuals. However, the social safety net has been more effective in redistributing income within rural areas than in urban centers. Work, education, and marriage are the three main pathways out of poverty for most Americans, whether residing in urban or rural locales, and thus making progress against poverty and inequality faces major economic and demographic headwinds. (Author...

    This aim of this paper is to assess the economic status of rural people five decades after publication of President Johnson's National Commission on Rural Poverty report The People Left Behind. Using data from the Annual Social and Economic Supplement of the CPS, along with county data from the Regional Economic Information System, I focus on how changes in employment, wages, and the social safety net have influenced the evolution of poverty and inequality in rural and urban places. The evidence shows that large numbers of rural Americans are disengaged from the labor market, gains in human capital attainment have stagnated, and the retreat from marriage continues for the medium- and less-skilled individuals. However, the social safety net has been more effective in redistributing income within rural areas than in urban centers. Work, education, and marriage are the three main pathways out of poverty for most Americans, whether residing in urban or rural locales, and thus making progress against poverty and inequality faces major economic and demographic headwinds. (Author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Varner, Charles; Mattingly, Marybeth; Grusky, David
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2017

    In recent years, much attention has been paid to the changing structure of U.S. income inequality, but somewhat less to the changing structure of U.S. poverty. Why has the discussion of "new poverty facts" been sidelined? It is certainly not because the changes have been minor or unimportant. To the contrary, the landscape of U.S. poverty appears to be changing rapidly, with many of the most popular proposals to reform the country's safety net motivated precisely by new empirical developments. But these developments have typically been invoked in piecemeal fashion and have not captivated the country to the extent that the spectacular takeoff in income inequality has. Although there are many reasons for this reticence (including the obvious one that recent trends in income inequality are, by any standard, especially dramatic), we cannot dismiss the frequently voiced worry that an open discussion would be counterproductive because some reformers might seize on that discussion to justify reforms oriented more toward reducing spending than reducing poverty. This worry...

    In recent years, much attention has been paid to the changing structure of U.S. income inequality, but somewhat less to the changing structure of U.S. poverty. Why has the discussion of "new poverty facts" been sidelined? It is certainly not because the changes have been minor or unimportant. To the contrary, the landscape of U.S. poverty appears to be changing rapidly, with many of the most popular proposals to reform the country's safety net motivated precisely by new empirical developments. But these developments have typically been invoked in piecemeal fashion and have not captivated the country to the extent that the spectacular takeoff in income inequality has. Although there are many reasons for this reticence (including the obvious one that recent trends in income inequality are, by any standard, especially dramatic), we cannot dismiss the frequently voiced worry that an open discussion would be counterproductive because some reformers might seize on that discussion to justify reforms oriented more toward reducing spending than reducing poverty. This worry sometimes leads to less-than-transparent discussion. We offer this article in the admittedly quaint hope that it is better to operate with full and complete transparency and that an open and honest discussion of the facts will in the end lead to informed poverty-reducing policy. The simple predicate of this piece is that, given the massive externalities brought on by running a high-poverty economy, there is an open-and-shut case for reform efforts that are authentically focused on reducing the poverty rate. We will attempt, therefore, to identify the key poverty facts that such legitimate reform efforts should bear in mind. In the course of doing so, we will reveal how the current array of reform proposals, including those published here, attend to different sets of stylized facts. (Author introduction)

  • Individual Author: Wiseman, Michael
    Reference Type: Book Chapter/Book
    Year: 2017

    Transformation of the Food Stamp Program (FSP) into a near-universal system of food-oriented income support renamed the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) was arguably the most significant development in American social policy during the first decade of the new millennium. Three events were the primary drivers of the change: (1) contraction of traditional welfare assistance that followed the 1996 transformation of Aid to Families with Dependent Children into Temporary Assistance for Needy Families; (2) progressive relaxation of federal eligibility requirements for food stamp receipt beginning in 2000; and (3) demand for help generated by the Great Recession (GR) of 2007 to 2009. Even with this metamorphosis, SNAP is only one component of the U.S. "safety net," and attention to the program's interface with other safety net components is essential to overall evaluation and planning for improvement. Material from this paper will appear as chapter 3 in The Middle-Class Safety Net in the Great Recession: Unemployment Insurance and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance...

    Transformation of the Food Stamp Program (FSP) into a near-universal system of food-oriented income support renamed the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) was arguably the most significant development in American social policy during the first decade of the new millennium. Three events were the primary drivers of the change: (1) contraction of traditional welfare assistance that followed the 1996 transformation of Aid to Families with Dependent Children into Temporary Assistance for Needy Families; (2) progressive relaxation of federal eligibility requirements for food stamp receipt beginning in 2000; and (3) demand for help generated by the Great Recession (GR) of 2007 to 2009. Even with this metamorphosis, SNAP is only one component of the U.S. "safety net," and attention to the program's interface with other safety net components is essential to overall evaluation and planning for improvement. Material from this paper will appear as chapter 3 in The Middle-Class Safety Net in the Great Recession: Unemployment Insurance and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Working Together, to be published by the W. E. Upjohn Institute in 2018. The book's object is to use the GR experience to inform both Unemployment Insurance (UI) and SNAP policy development in the future. The intent of this chapter is to provide a comprehensive overview of the SNAP program as operated through the GR that explains structure, reviews consequences, and lays part of the foundation for the book's state-specific analyses and its conclusions. (Author abstract)

     

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