Welfare Dimensions Summary Scores (WDSS): Measuring State Welfare Policy Variations and Change in the United States, 1996-2003

Principal Investigator(s):
Gordon F. De Jong, Pennsylvania State University; Deborah Roempke Graefe, Pennsylvania State University ; Matthew Hall, Pennsylvania State University ; Shelley K. Irving, Pennsylvania State University

These data are not available from ICPSR. Users should consult the data owners (via Welfare Dimensions Summary Scores (WDSS): Measuring State Welfare Policy Variations and Change in the United States, 1996-2003) directly for details on obtaining these resources.

The Welfare Dimensions Summary Scores (WDSS) project provides quantitative evidence on welfare policies across all states and the District of Columbia from 1996 through 2003, or immediately following a redesign of United States welfare policy that freed states to create public assistance contexts specific to their own economic environments. The purpose of this study is to categorize textual welfare policy guidelines into dimensions and quantified scores across states throughout the post welfare reform implementation period. The data is composed of measures based upon the Urban Institute's Welfare Rules Database (WRD), which provides a longitudinal textual account of the changes in Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) rules in all 50 states and the District of Columbia for the 1996 to 2003 period. Specifically, the researchers used the WRD database to code individual welfare rule items for each state during the study time period, eventually producing 18 welfare policy dimensions. These scores range from negative (the lowest indicating greatest leniency) to positive (the highest indicating greatest stringency) values. These quantitative measures can serve to measure the variation across states, and changes over time, in welfare policy guidelines from 1996 through 2003.

United States Department of Health and Human Services. National Institutes of Health. Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (R01 HD041489)

National Science Foundation (SES-0241848)

Population Research Institute, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (R24 HD1025)

state

none

1996 -- 2003

These data are not available from ICPSR. Users should consult the Welfare Dimensions Summary Scores study page, available through Penn State University's Simple Online Data Archive for Population Studies (SODAPOP).

The purpose of the study was to quantify changes in welfare policies across all states and the District of Columbia immediately following a major redesign of United States welfare policy in 1996. Specifically, the researchers sought to categorize textual welfare policy guidelines into dimensions and quantified scores across states over the 1996 to 2003 period. The ultimate objective is to create a set of indicators useful for comparing all states and for evaluating the consequences of welfare reform from individual and family behavior and outcomes in nationally representative research.

The researchers used the Urban Institute's Welfare Rules Database (WRD) to code 78 salient individual welfare rule items for each state during the study time period. Items were coded on a lenient-to-stringent continuum, and variables were standardized so that a uniform metric was established among items. Sets of variables shown to be inter-correlated were then analyzed using factor analysis to construct a factor score summary measure. The results from this analytical process produced 15 1st-order and three 2nd-order policy dimensions, which summarize 43 of the 78 welfare rule items.

The researchers used the Urban Institute's Welfare Rules Database to code 78 salient individual welfare rule items for each state during the study time period. An additional 25 welfare rule items were excluded because minimal state-to-state variation rendered them of little empirical value.

Time Series: Discrete

Welfare policy rules in all 50 States and the District of Columbia between 1996 and 2003.

State welfare policy rules

Original source information on welfare rules came from The Urban Institute's Welfare Rules Database (WRD). The WRD, a product of the Assessing the New Federalism project and supported by the Department of Health and Human Services, is a free online source for details on welfare rules in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The WRD contains information on welfare rules in place from 1996 through 2000.

administrative records data

The total of 21 variables codify the 18 policy dimensions derived from the Urban Institute's Welfare Rules Database (WRD). Specifically, variables provide information regarding each of the 50 states' and the District of Columbia's requirements to be eligible for welfare assistance, including work-related activity requirements, two-parent family work requirements, new/battered immigrant eligibility requirements, green card/refugee immigrant requirements, family responsibilities, personal responsibilities, basic responsibilities, noncompliance penalties, illness exemptions, work exemptions, time limits, pregnant women provisions, transitional benefits, extended kin provisions, and asset/income provisions.

not applicable

Individual welfare rules were coded on a lenient-to-stringent continuum, and variables were standardized so that a uniform metric was established among items.