Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Human Development and Family Studies

First Advisor

Steven B. Garasky


The main purpose of this study is to synthesize evidence concerning welfare participation behavior and the consequences of the behavior, both for participants and non-participants. Following the life-course theory view of family life, this study incorporates a dynamic model of family process and elaborates historical events into this model. Analyzing data from the NLSY79 (National Longitudinal Survey of Youth), which provides a history of labor force participation and information related to job and family relationships, this study finds that low-income families reach self-sufficiency mostly through marriage, getting a higher wage job, and working longer hours;In terms of determinants of self-sufficiency, the results of logistics regression analyses suggest that having a higher paying job and working more hours will move low-income families into an economically better situation, and that an increase in the hourly wage and hours worked will improve self-sufficiency for low-income families. In addition, the respondent's intelligence level and educational attainment have positive relationships with self-sufficiency and changes in it; being single or with more children makes it more difficult economically compared to being married or having fewer children after controlling for other factors;Based on Chow's F-test, there was a significant change in the behaviors of low-income families during welfare reform, from 1996 to 1998. The average hourly wage is a more important factor than hours worked for attaining higher self-sufficiency over time from 1996 to 2000. Educational attainment and the number of children have important different effects on self-sufficiency and changes in it between 1996 and 1998, while the importance of the respondent's intelligence level and job experience remain relatively the same.



Digital Repository @ Iowa State University,

Copyright Owner

Jooyoung Sohn



Proquest ID


File Format


File Size

137 pages