Families on Welfare:

Sharp Rise in Never-Married Women Reflects Societal Trend

HEHS-94-92: Published: May 31, 1994. Publicly Released: May 31, 1994.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on changes in the characteristics of female-headed families receiving Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) benefits between 1976 and 1992.

GAO found that: (1) in response to AFDC program growth, states have initiated major reforms, including taking new actions to change welfare recipients' behavior and enhance family responsibility; (2) several states no longer increase the amount of a family's AFDC benefit for an additional child born while the mother is receiving welfare; (3) AFDC caseloads and total program costs have grown dramatically in recent years; (4) total AFDC payments, including federal and state funds, were about $22.2 billion in fiscal year 1992; (5) in November 1993, AFDC benefits reached over 5 million families; (6) from 1976 to 1992, the proportion of single women receiving AFDC who had never been married more than doubled; (7) the characteristics of all single women receiving AFDC also changed between 1976 and 1992; (8) never-married women were less likely to receive child support and more likely to have lower incomes; and (9) the growth in never-married women receiving AFDC reflects a broader societal trend among all women.

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