Welfare Receipt Trajectories of African-American Women Followed for 30 Years

Hee Soon Juon, Kerry M. Green, Kate E. Fothergill, Judith D. Kasper, Roland J. Thorpe, Margaret E. Ensminger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Although there has been much discussion about the persistence of poverty and welfare receipt among child-rearing women in the US, little is known about long-term patterns of poverty and welfare receipt or what differentiates those who remain on welfare from those who do not. Furthermore, are there distinctions between child-rearing women who are poor but not on welfare from those who do receive welfare? This study examined trajectories of welfare receipt and poverty among African-American women (n=680) followed from 1966 to 1997. A semiparametric group-based approach revealed four trajectories of welfare receipt: no welfare (64.2%), early leavers (12.7%), late leavers (10.1%), and persistent welfare recipients (10.1%). The "no welfare" group was further divided into a poverty group and a not poverty group to distinguish predictors of welfare from predictors of poverty. Multivariate analyses revealed differences in predictors of trajectory groups in terms of education, physical and psychological health, and social integration. In addition, earlier chronic illness and social integration were important predictors to differentiate between long-term users (i.e., late leavers, persistent recipients) and short-term users (i.e., early leavers). Trajectories did not differ in teenage motherhood, substance use, or family history of welfare receipt. Implications for public policy are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)76-94
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Urban Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2010


  • African-American women
  • Psychological distress
  • Semiparametric growth mixture model
  • Social integration
  • Social roles
  • Welfare trajectory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Urban Studies
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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