The Sum of Its Parts? Assessing Variation and Trends in Family Income Support Across the 48 Contiguous United States

TitleThe Sum of Its Parts? Assessing Variation and Trends in Family Income Support Across the 48 Contiguous United States
Publication TypeWorking Paper
AuthorsParolin, Z.
PublisherHerman Deleeck Centre for Social Policy, University of Antwerp
Place PublishedAntwerp
Year of Publication2016
NumberWP 16/05
Pagination35
Date Published11/2016
Abstract

Against the backdrop of increasing signs of state-level divergence in social and labor market policies, this study sets out to capture the extent of variation of family income support across the 48 contiguous United States (all but Alaska and Hawaii), as well as how states’ income protections have evolved since the ‘devolution revolution’ of the mid-1990s. To achieve this, simulations of family income support are calculated for working and jobless lone-parent families in each state in 1994 and 2014. The findings point to a common trend across states of declining income support for jobless families, but increasing net incomes for lone parents who work full-time at minimum wage. The simulations also reveal significant differences in the adequacy of protections offered to loneparent families across the American states; moreover, the evidence suggests that states have increasingly diverged with respect to certain instruments of family income support between 1994 and 2014. As the study details, these trends emphasize a potential need for more dissected analyses of the United States when the country is embedded into comparative social policy research. Shifting the unit of analysis from the federal to state level challenges unitary conceptualizations of the nature of U.S. family policy institutions.

Keywordschild poverty, family income support, family policy, minimum income protections, welfare reform
Citation Key6079
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