What causes job loss among former welfare recipients: the role of family health problems

J Am Med Womens Assoc (1972). 2002 Winter;57(1):5-10.


Objective: to test whether women's or children's health status influences the likelihood that low-income single mothers experience job loss.

Methods: Using a nationally representative probability sample from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, we estimated whether having a health limitation or having a child with a health limitation was associated with job loss for a sample of 783 women who had previously been on welfare.

Results: Both having a health limitation (odds ratio [OR]=1.53; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.19-1.97) and having a child with a health limitation (OR=1.36; 95% CI, 1.18-1.56) were associated with significantly increased risk of job loss among women previously on welfare. The effects remained significant after adjustment for age, education, marital status, race, age and number of children, and economic conditions.

Conclusions: Dramatic changes in welfare policy in the United States have made many single mothers living in poverty dependent on work as their sole source of income. Although studies have shown that families on welfare are more likely to have health limitations, little is known about how family health affects the ability of poor single mothers to remain employed. These results demonstrate that women with health limitations and mothers of children with health limitations are at particularly high risk of losing their jobs. Public and private policies that can help reduce job loss as a consequence of family health problems are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child Welfare
  • Child, Preschool
  • Family Health*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Maternal Welfare
  • Odds Ratio
  • Poverty / statistics & numerical data
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Social Welfare*
  • Unemployment / statistics & numerical data*
  • Unemployment / trends
  • United States