March 1995 Economics and Statistics Administration, U.S. Department of
In summer 1993, the Nation had 36 million mothers 15 to 44 years old;
3.8 million of them (10 percent) were receiving
AFDC (Aid to Families with Dependent Children) payments to help with
the rearing of 9.7 million children. (An additional 0.5 million women over
45 years old and 0.3 million fathers living with their dependent children
also received AFDC.)
This Brief examines fertility and socioeconomic characteristics of mothers
in their childbearing years (aged 15 to 44) who received AFDC and compares
them to mothers of those ages who were not receiving payments. The
statistics were collected in the Survey of Income and Program
Participation (SIPP) between June and September 1993.
AFDC mothers are younger.
On average, mothers receiving AFDC payments were 30 years old; those
not receiving them were 34. (See table) AFDC
mothers were nearly 3 times as likely as their non-AFDC counterparts to be
under 25 years old (28 percent versus 10 percent).
AFDC mothers were also younger (an average of 20 years old) than
non-AFDC mothers (23 years) when they gave birth for the first time. (See
graph on page 1 and table) In fact, 29 percent of
mothers on AFDC had their first birth under age 18; the same was true for
only 15 percent of non-AFDC mothers.
AFDC mothers have more children.
Mothers on AFDC had an average of 2.6 children each; non-AFDC mothers
averaged 2.1. The difference varied by age of mother, ranging from about
0.5 children for women aged 20 to 24 to about 1.0 for those 35 years old
and over. (See graph below and table)
The chances of receiving AFDC payments differ by race and Hispanic
origin, but not the nativity of the mother.
Race: About 1 in 4 Black mothers of childbearing ages (1.5
million) were AFDC recipients, higher than the 7 percent of corresponding
White mothers (2.1 million). Despite these differences in recipiency
rates, Black AFDC mothers did not have significantly more children than
their White counterparts.
Hispanic origin: Nearly 1 in 5 Hispanic mothers (784,000) aged
15 to 44 were on AFDC. By comparison, about 1 in 10 (3.0 million)
non-Hispanic mothers were AFDC recipents. Although both Hispanic and
non-Hispanic mothers on AFDC were an average of 20 years old when they
had their first child, Hispanic women had almost 0.7 more children than
non-Hispanic women. About 3 in 10 Hispanic mothers on AFDC were born
outside the United States.
Nativity: About 9 percent (392,000) of the Nation's 4.2
million foreign-born mothers aged 15-44 were on AFDC, not statistically
different from the 11 percent (3.4 million) of U.S.-born mothers who were
AFDC recipients. Native- and foreign-born mothers on AFDC each had higher
fertility rates than their counterparts who were not AFDC participants.
Incidentally, about three-quarters of all foreign-born mothers on AFDC
were not citizens of the United States.
Nearly one-half of AFDC mothers have never been married.
About 1.8 million of the Nation's 3.8 million mothers (48 percent)
receiving AFDC payments had never been married. These never-married AFDC
mothers had an average of 2.4 children each.
Another 30 percent of AFDC mothers were currently married. (See chart
on the first page.) They had an average of 2.8 children each. Most of
these women (58 percent, or 648,000) either were separated or had absent
husbands. However, about half a million women in intact marriages needed
AFDC payments to help make ends meet.
The remaining 23 percent of mothers receiving AFDC payments were
either widowed or divorced.
Almost half of AFDC mothers do not have a high school diploma.
An additional 38 percent had completed high school (but did not attend
college) and another 19 percent had attended college for at least 1 year.
About 1 in 7 AFDC mothers were currently enrolled in school; these
women, on average, had 2.1 children each and were 28 years old. Only 11
percent of these students were teenagers; this suggests that a large
proportion of mothers on AFDC who are enrolled in school are trying to
resume their education while raising a family under severe economic
Most AFDC mothers are jobless ....
Unlike mothers not getting AFDC payments, most AFDC mothers (87
percent) didn't have a job. On average, jobless AFDC mothers supported 2.6
children each, no more than AFDC mothers who had a job for all or part of
the month preceding the survey.
.... and have very low family incomes.
Nearly three-quarters of mothers on AFDC lived in families with
monthly incomes of less than $1,000; these low-income mothers supported an
average of 2.7 children each. In contrast, only 10 percent of non-AFDC
mothers lived in families with such low incomes; these low-income non-AFDC
mothers had an average of 2.2 children each. About 4 in every 5 AFDC
mothers were below the poverty level.
Most AFDC mothers reside in central cities ....
AFDC mothers were more likely than non-AFDC mothers to live in metro
areas (81 percent versus 77 percent). About 70 percent of metropolitan
AFDC mothers lived in central cities. In contrast, nearly 2 in 3
metropolitan non-AFDC mothers lived in the suburbs.
.... and 1 in 5 live in a Pacific Coast State.
The Pacific Division is comprised of five States: Washington, Oregon,
California, Alaska, and Hawaii. It was home to 787,000 - or 21 percent -
of the Nation's AFDC mothers. Most (625,000) lived in California. Though
about one-quarter of Pacific Division AFDC mothers were born outside the
United States, they had an average of only 2.6 children, not significantly
different from that of AFDC mothers nationally.
Many mothers also participated in other programs designed to assist
families needing economic support to provide basic nutrition for
themselves and their children. About 5.3 million received food stamps; 2.4
million received support from the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)
program. Additional Briefs about these mothers will be issued later this
AFDC mothers -
Amara Bachu (301-457-2449) or
Martin O'Connell (301-457-2416):
send email: firstname.lastname@example.org
This Brief is one of a series that presents information of current
policy interest. It may include data from businesses, households, or
other sources. All statistics are subject to sampling variability, as
well as survey design flaws, respondent classification errors, and data
processing mistakes. The Census Bureau has taken steps to minimize errors,
and analytical statements have been tested and meet statistical standards.
However, because of methodological differences, use caution when comparing
these data with data from other sources.