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THE COLOR OF WELFARE SANCTIONING: Exploring the Individual and Contextual Roles of Race on TANF Case Closures and Benefit Reductions


Shannon M. Monnat, Department of Sociology, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, 4505 South Maryland Parkway, Box 455033, Las Vegas, NV 89154-5033; e-mail:


This article investigates the individual and contextual roles of race on welfare sanctions: benefit cuts for failing to comply with work or other behavioral requirements under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program. Using six years of federal administrative data, I advance previous welfare research by providing a nationally representative analysis of participant-, county-, and state-level predictors of welfare sanctioning. Using theories of racial classification, racialized social systems, and racial threat as guiding frameworks, I find that black and Latina women are at a greater risk of being sanctioned than white women. Further, although odds of a sanction are slightly reduced for black women living in counties with greater percentages of blacks, the opposite holds for Latinas, who are at an increased risk of being sanctioned in counties with greater percentages of Latinos.