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Events that Trigger Poverty Entries and Exits

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This article examines how events—such as changes in household composition, employment status, disability status, and economic conditions—affect poverty entries and exits. We also examine whether the role these events play in poverty transitions differs in the pre- and post-welfare-reform periods. Methods.

The analysis uses discrete-time multivariate hazard models along with monthly, longitudinal data from the 1988, 1990, and 1996 panels of the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP). Results.

Analyses show that many events are related to the likelihood of entering and exiting poverty. Of the trigger events examined, individuals living in households that experience a loss or gain of employment are the most likely to enter and exit poverty. We also find that changes in employment are more important in the 1996 to 1999 time period—after welfare reform—than in the 1988 to 1992 time period—prior to welfare reform. Finally, changes in household composition, disability status, and educational attainment are found to play a role in throwing people into poverty and helping them exit from poverty in both time periods. Conclusions.

There is no single path into or out of poverty, suggesting that multiple policies can be considered to help alleviate poverty.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: The Urban Institute

Publication date: 01 December 2005

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