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Abstract

A primary goal of welfare reform was to overcome welfare dependency through the promotion of work and the setting of lifetime limits. While atf irst blush thisg oal may have appearedr easonablef or young recipients, it does not address the needs of older recipients, particularly women. Based on in-depth interviews with welfare recipients in four impoverished rural Appalachian counties over a four year time span (1999-2001; 2004), this paper evaluates the experiences of older women as they confront the changes brought on by welfare reform legislation. Findings suggest that impoverished older women in isolated rural communities experience multiple crises as they attempt to negotiate the "new" welfare system. As a result of spatial inequality, limited social capital, and the effects of ageism, they have tremendous difficulty meeting even their most basic needs.

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