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Keywords

Depression; Mental; Job hunting; Poor; Poor women; Public welfare; Social networks; Welfare; Welfare reform

Abstract

Depression can be a significant barrier in the welfare-to-work transition of poor women. Fortunately, support from social networks can lessen symptoms and facilitate entry into the workplace. Inconsistency in the literature concerning the effects of social networks on the poor suggests further research is needed. Thus, we examine the level and determinants of depressive symptoms among participants in the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families program. Having a good job, being in good health, married, and black, and living in rural areas inhibit symptoms of depression. Remaining on TANF and having several children increases symptom levels. Those who report that they frequently have people to help them show lower levels of depression. The larger the social network, and the higher the percent of the network that is made up of neighbors, the higher the level of depression. While some of our findings suggest the success of 1996 welfare reform legislation others suggest important policy considerations. Good physical health (including access to health care), reduction of economic hardships, and effective social supports are ongoing issues to be addressed among low-income populations.