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Abstract

State spending on Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) greatly varies. Combined federal and state spending by the states per TANF family or recipient reflects the historic level of state generosity for Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), the failure of the federal government to set any minimum spending standard for the states, and the failure of the federal government to adjust federal grants for huge changes in state TANF caseloads. Our multivariate analysis shows that state spending for TANF is greatly influenced by the percentage of the state population that is black, the percentage of the state population that is on TANF (especially if a significant percentage of the rolls consist of black recipients), and the economic conditions within the state. Some states spend as much as their economies will allow, while other states spend far below capacity. Despite the very different goals of TANF, state spending is still heavily influenced by their historic approach to AFDC.