This longitudinal study analyzes the impact of labor market conditions and welfare policies accompanying the 1990s waivers granted by the federal government to California and the 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act (PRWOA) on families entering welfare (accessions). A time series model was specified for analyzing the number of families entering welfare from January 1983 to December 1998. The findings suggest that in 1998 under PRWOA, all else constant, there were fewer case openings. Prior to the PRWOA, policy shifts of the 1990s did not have an impact on case openings. The findings also show that under economic recovery fewer families applied for welfare. The implications of these findings are that drastic measures such as time-limited welfare should be re-examined since a favorable economic environment allows many recipients to remain off public assistance even in the absence of such measures.

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