|Detailed Objective: This work provides an improved understanding of the challenges facing the U.S.
Department of Agriculture's food assistance programs and other programs in rural
areas, and determines the differences, if any, in policies and practices for delivery
of program benefits to rural and urban residents. Changes in food assistance and
other welfare programs as a consequence of welfare reform may not have the same
effect in urban and rural areas because of differences in access to transportation,
welfare offices, child care, informal social support networks, and jobs. In addition,
policies and practices may be different in largely rural States.
The work is using a combination of quantitative and qualitative research methods
to analyze program rules, program implementation, and the effects arising from
increased State discretion over welfare policies. The first step is to specify
how Federal, State, and local policies embedded in today's cash and non-cash
assistance programs and tax credits affect work incentives and income packaging.
The second step is to determine the administrative rules and practices in selected
State and rural areas and how they influence the structure of benefits. The
third step is to analyze the relationship between State welfare practices, labor
market conditions, work effort, and the distribution of food stamp benefits.
The fourth step is to examine how families in rural areas experience welfare
changes differently from families in urban areas. Quantitative research and
field work in three to four rural communities in four States will investigate
this issue. The Urban Institute was awarded a cooperative assistance agreement for $249,617
in September 1998. The work is expected to be completed by September 2000.