NEW YORK—November 2, 2009—A new study from a recent issue of the Journal of Marriage and Family shows that women who exit welfare (under TANF, or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families), are as likely to marry as women of similar socioeconomic backgrounds who were never on welfare. Marriage rates are lower while women receive TANF, but since most women receive welfare benefits for a short period of time, the overall effect of welfare participation on marriage rates is very small.
The authors suggest that the temporary disincentive to marry while receiving welfare could be reduced by offering a grace period for newly married couples during which time the earnings of spouses would not affect their eligibility for benefits. In addition to proving new information about the effects of welfare participation on marriage, the research sheds light upon and discounts long-standing debates within welfare policy about the effect of a "culture of poverty" on family values. The researchers observed over 3,000 women over a five year period.