Degree Date



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Social Work and Social Research


Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), implemented in 1997, contains federal work mandates and five-year lifetime limits, yet many TANF recipients continue to need cash benefits for more than five years. TANF recipients often live in urban areas of concentrated poverty which have high levels of neighborhood violence. Chronic stress resulting from violence exposure can lead to neurobiological changes leading to poor health. Using a neighborhood lens, and the framework of cumulative adversity and advantage including the neurobiology of stress, I argue that neighborhood violence exposure is associated with long-term TANF receipt. Analyzing data from the Welfare, Children, and Families Three-City Study, United States Census data, and Chicago Police Department, I find that the interaction of neighborhood tenure and perceptions of violence increase months on TANF. The interaction of race and perceptions of violence also increases TANF receipt for whites and Latinos, but not African Americans. A sub-analysis of Chicago data provides support for the hypothesis that administrative and selfreports of violence will have differential impacts on TANF receipt.