TANF RESPONSES TO RACE DURING THE GREAT RECESSION
Triem, Carole M.
Jensen, Micah K
Federal welfare programs in the United States have long suffered from implicit and explicit racial discrimination. The programs rules were originally written to exclude Blacks. The literature documents a persistent negative correlation between race and welfare generosity. The program's current iteration, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), failed to respond to the increase in need that occurred during the Great Recession. I posit that this lack of response may have been due in part to racial threat: the economic downturn changed the correlation between race and TANF benefits, making the relationship more negative. Using OLS with state fixed effects, I find that the interaction between changes in racial composition and unemployment rate are significant predictors of TANF benefits. My model shows that predicted TANF benefits increase when a state's Black population grows and unemployment is low and decrease when a state's Black population grows and unemployment is high.
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