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Temporary Assistance for Needy Families

James P. Ziliak

Chapter in NBER book Economics of Means-Tested Transfer Programs in the United States, Volume 1 (2016), Robert A. Moffitt, editor (p. 303 - 393)
Conference held December 5-6, 2014
Published in November 2016 by University of Chicago Press
© 2016 by the National Bureau of Economic Research

In this chapter I provide a brief history of the TANF program, including changes made as part of the 2005 Deficit Reduction Act. I then present a variety of program statistics, including trends in aggregate and state-level caseloads and spending, along with changes in the demographic composition of the program, especially the shift from adult with child cases to child-only cases. I also highlight the changing composition of spending on the program from cash assistance to in-kind assistance, and the challenges faced in documenting total (cash + in-kind) caseloads and spending. I follow this with a discussion of the behavioral issues surrounding TANF, including the four program goals and possible modifications as part of the 2014 reauthorization legislation, and then I provide a systematic review of the research evidence on whether those goals have been met.

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This chapter first appeared as NBER working paper w21038, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, James P. Ziliak
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