First Advisor

Karen Seccombe

Term of Graduation

Spring 2000

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Sociology






Literacy -- Oregon, Welfare recipients -- Oregon, Public welfare -- Oregon



Physical Description

1 online resource (v, 64 pages)


On August 22, 1996, President Clinton signed new legislation that dismantled the United State's welfare system. Consequently, thousands of welfare recipients had to move into the work-force. It is essential to discover if former welfare recipients are prepared to obtain employment and achieve self-sufficiency. Previous research suggests that human capital assets, such as level of literacy proficiency and grade completed in school are important factors in predicting welfare receipt. The purpose of this study is to investigate how literacy skills are associated with having received TANF for people without a high school degree or GED. The 941 subjects were located in the Portland, metropolitan area and were between the ages of 18-44.

Using data from Wave 1 of the Longitudinal Study of Adult Literacy, a quantitative analysis was conducted in order to investigate the following two hypotheses: For people with low-levels of education, there will be a strong, inverse relationship between literacy proficiency and having received T ANF; In a multivariate context, after controlling for other relevant variables, a statistically significant relationship between literacy proficiency and T ANF receipt will exist.

The Pearson's correlation for literacy proficiency and TANF receipt is - .026, but statistical significance was not achieved. Consequently, support cannot be concluded for the first hypothesis. When all pertinent variables are properly controlled for in a multivariate logistic regression model, statistical significance was achieved for the association between literacy proficiency and having received TANF, but the effect was not in the expected direction. Therefore, the second hypothesis also was not supported.

This study yielded mixed results and no definitive statement can be made about how human capital assets affect the likelihood of having received T ANF. However, literacy proficiency, when other important factors are controlled for, do appear to be important. Future research is needed in order to better understand the relationship between human capital assets and having received T ANF. It is essential that social science researchers continue to uncover the complex forces at work in the lives of welfare recipients so that we can better aid them in their journey to self-sufficiency.


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