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Working after Welfare

How Women Balance Jobs and Family in the Wake of Welfare Reform

Kristin S. Seefeldt

Publication Year: 2009

In "Working after Welfare," we experience the day-to-day struggles that single mothers face and the reasons they tend to remain in low-wage, dead-end jobs.

Published by: W.E. Upjohn Institute

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. xi-xii

None of the work represented in this book could have been accomplished without the assistance of a great many organizations and individuals. First, the development of the Women’s Employment Study (WES) and the collection and analysis of the data would not have been possible without the support of numerous funders...

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1 - Moving from Welfare to Work

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pp. 1-14

In 2005 and 2006, the New York Times ran a number of articles about women’s choices regarding motherhood, careers, and the balance between the two. “Many Women at Elite Colleges Set Career Path to Motherhood,” claimed one article, citing a “trend” among female Ivy League students to say...

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2 - Six Years Later, How Are Former Welfare Recipients Faring in the Labor Market?

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pp. 15-32

As debates over how to reform welfare were drawing to a close, it became clear to many observers that social policy affecting poor families was about to change dramatically. Questions were raised as to whether most welfare recipients, many of whom lacked a high school diploma or any significant...

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3 - Up the Ladder, Down the Ladder, or Stuck on the Same Rung?

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pp. 33-64

In the mid-1980s, a community-based employment program called Project Match started working with residents of one of Chicago’s infamous public housing developments, Cabrini Green, to help them find jobs. Project Match staff quickly realized that they could place many participants into jobs, but...

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4 - Peeking inside the “Black Box” of Employment Transitions

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pp. 65-80

At the start of the WES, many respondents could have conceivably been characterized as “long-term” welfare recipients. The average woman had spent more than half of her adult years with this support. Many had also experienced substantial portions of their childhood on welfare. By the end of 2003,...

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5 - What Working Mothers Want

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pp. 81-101

In the context of employment advancement, the previous chapters, as well as much of the prior research in this area, have focused primarily on wages as the key attribute of a “good” job. Indeed, nearly all of the women we interviewed in depth said that they would sort jobs into “good” or “bad” by their pay. However...

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6 - Challenges to Advancement among Former Welfare Recipients

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pp. 101-122

“A job, a better job, a career . . . ” The catchphrase of Michigan’s Work First program implies that once welfare recipients gain a toehold on the employment ladder and continue to accumulate work experience, their wages will rise and their jobs will be better. However, the appropriateness of this metaphor in summing up welfare recipients’ employment trajectories is open to...

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7 - Policies to Bring Work and Family Back into Balance

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pp. 123-134

When I started this project, I was hoping to uncover differences in the way women made decisions about work and family that might help explain various employment outcomes. The existing literature indicated the importance of certain human capital and personal characteristics in impeding (or assisting) low-skilled...

Appendix A - Chapter 3 Regression Results

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pp. 135-148

Appendix B - Qualitative Data Methods

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pp. 149-154


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pp. 155-162

The Author

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pp. 163-164


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pp. 165-170

About the Institute

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pp. 171

E-ISBN-13: 9780880994392
E-ISBN-10: 0880994398
Print-ISBN-13: 9780880993449
Print-ISBN-10: 0880993448

Page Count: 171
Publication Year: 2009

Edition: First