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Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
Proximity and Opportunity: How Residence and Race Affect the Employment of Welfare Recipients
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This study explores the relationship between access to jobs, work activity, and receipt of welfare by analyzing data on the characteristics of welfare recipients and the location of jobs in the Detroit metropolitan area in the 1990s. After controlling for individual characteristics, the results indicate that welfare recipients who live closer to employment opportunities are more likely to work and less likely to remain on welfare than those who live farther away. The data reveal that access to jobs varies by race and residential location in the Detroit metropolitan area. Welfare recipients who are white and live in suburban areas have greater access to employment opportunities than welfare recipients who are nonwhite and reside in the central city. Greater access to jobs is associated with higher employment rates among white and nonwhite welfare recipients and with a greater likelihood that recipients will leave the welfare rolls. The article discusses the significance of the results for welfare reform. While the welfare-to-work debate focuses on how to encourage and support work among welfare recipients, little attention has been given to strategies that can reduce center-city residents' spatial isolation from employment opportunities. (Authors)
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