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The major economic downturn of the Great Recession led many families with children to depend on cash assistance from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. In order to capture TANF caseload growth rates relative to their labor market performance, we developed a responsiveness index which revealed that many of the western and midwestern states were quite responsive to the recession. Using Exploratory Spatial Data Analysis (ESDA) tools, we found the presence of strong spatial clusters in unemployment rate and in TANF maximum aid. Several states in the western region were surrounded by neighboring states with higher growth in unemployment rate changes than the national average based on ‘Rook Contiguity’ weight matrix. The presence of High-High clusters of the level of TANF benefits was found in Northeastern states whereas the presence of Low-Low spatial clusters was found primarily in Southern states. The present study’s findings have confirmed the idea that spatial analyses can be useful for policy research. In the era of evidence-based policy making, the role of spatial analyses is bound to expand.
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF); TANF responsiveness to great recession; TANF policy choices; TANF maximum aid; Exploratory spatial data analysis; Spatial patterns; Spatial clusters
Public Policy | Social Work
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Spatial Analyses of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families: Its Responsiveness to Labor Market Performance and Policies during the 2008 Recession.