FIGURE 7–3 Distribution of AFDC families by race of parent, 1983 to 1996.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (1998).

panic population to receive AFDC; instead, the growth is, simply, the result of growth in the size of the Hispanic population in the United States. This serves to illustrate the more general point that the percentages of different race-ethnic groups among welfare recipients are not very reliable indicators of the propensity of different groups to receive welfare, because those percentages reflect, in part, differences in relative population size. The participation rates shown in Tables 7–1 through 7–4 are more reliable indicators of the propensities that are the more important subjects of policy interest.


An important question is why the differences in welfare-participation rates across race and ethnic groups are so large. A number of factors are known to be associated with welfare-program participation in general (for reviews, see Blank, 1997; Moffitt, 1992). Factors include low income and poverty, most obviously, but also family structure—in particular, whether the household is headed by an unmarried woman with children—as well as labor-force participation and earnings, urban-rural loca-

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