Concurrent Participation in Federally-funded Welfare Programs and Empowerment Toward Economic Self-sufficiency

Rigaud Joseph, Florida International University


The purpose of this research was to determine the odds for low-income households to become and remain economically self-sufficient as a result of participating in federally-funded welfare programs. An evaluation in nature, this study assessed the merits and shortcomings of federally-funded welfare programs. Using the public-use version of the 2008 Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) Panel, this quasi-experimental investigation compartmentalized 4,216 low-income households into two groups: an intervention group (n = 2,436) and a comparison group (n = 1,780). Households in the intervention group received one or more federal means-tested welfare benefits for the most part of the 2008-2013 quinquennium. By contrast, those in the comparison group— although eligible for these benefits—did not receive them. Based on the premises of the theory of policy design and social construction, the culture of poverty theory, the racial classification model, and the social control thesis, the following two hypotheses were formulated: (1) Low-income households who receive one or more lower-tier federal means-tested benefits will be less likely to attain and maintain economic self-sufficiency than their counterparts who do not participate in federal welfare programs and (2) Lowincome households that enroll in more welfare programs will have worse self-sufficiency outcomes than their counterparts that participate in fewer programs. The survey respondents were measured repeatedly over a 56-month period to assess whether welfare receipt impacts their household income steadily beyond 150 percent of the federal poverty level, after controlling for known predictors. Findings from binomial logistic regression displayed medium effect sizes indicating that participation in public assistance did decrease the likelihood of attainment and maintenance of economic self-sufficiency among low-income American households. These findings were interpreted within the context of pre-existing differences that may have existed between the intervention group and the comparison group which were not accounted for in the multivariate analysis. Macro-implications of these findings for poverty and social welfare stakeholders were discussed.

Subject Area

Social work|Behavioral Sciences

Recommended Citation

Joseph, Rigaud, "Concurrent Participation in Federally-funded Welfare Programs and Empowerment Toward Economic Self-sufficiency" (2017). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI10747861.