Welfare Dimensions Summary Scores (WDSS): Measuring State Welfare Policy Variations and Change in the United States, 1996-2003 (ICPSR 33561)

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


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.

Access Notes

Study Description


This study was funded by:

  • National Science Foundation (SES-0241848 )
  • 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 )
  • Population Research Institute, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (R24 HD1025)

Scope of Study

Subject Terms:    policy, policy analysis, welfare legislation, welfare reform, welfare services

Smallest Geographic Unit:    state

Geographic Coverage:    United States

Time Period:   

  • 1996--2003

Unit of Observation:    State welfare policy rules

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

Data Type(s):    administrative records data

Data Collection Notes:

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).