CATO released their Work Versus Welfare Trade-off 2013 study. Table 4 shows that in 8 states, welfare pays the equivalent of an average salary in those states in cash/in-kind goods.

 Table 4
 Pretax Wage Equivalents Compared to Median Salaries

 Rank             Pretax Wage    Median     Percentage of 
   Jurisdiction   Equivalent ($) Salary ($) Median Salary (%)
 1 Hawaii         60,590         36,275     167%
 2 Vermont        42,350         34,029     124.5%
 3 Massachusetts  50,540         42,723     118.3%
 8 Conneticut     44,370         41,330     107.4%

Is a possible factor that could explain why the median wage is lower than the welfare wage in cash/in-kind goods, a correlations between "single" welfare moms collecting benefits while their live-in boyfriends collect a second salary?

It would probably be impossible to get good information on live in boyfriends, so I would be satisfied with a study that estimates the number of Head of households with 1 or more children in the states with/without better welfare benefits than the median salary.

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    CATO isn't exactly a reliable source: it has an agenda. But I'm not sure how this question can be answered, as it's about motivations. I would presume that a) such welfare benefits aren't easily available, b) people emotionally prefer to work than seek welfare if it's an option, and c) by working they hope to raise their wages. – Avi Aug 25 '13 at 1:39
  • There are all sorts of reasons why people work. I don't know how this would be answerable in a political way. As it is now, it's basically asking "what's the political spin opposite of CATO's political spin?" – user1530 Aug 25 '13 at 1:50
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    @DA., a 'high welfare state' === one of the 50 states that has a welfare cash aid/in-kind goods that are higher than the median salary in that state. (I.e. from the chart Hawaii (rank 1) through Conneticut (rank 8)) – user1873 Aug 25 '13 at 5:00
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    It seems you asking if there is a correlation between single women who have a live-in boyfriends, things Rick Santorum says, the median salary in a state, and the average welfare payout as calculated by a Koch Brothers run organization. It's certainly a question, but there are a lot of assumptions and disjointed connections here. – user1530 Aug 25 '13 at 5:09
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    @Avi - leaving aside valid criticism of the original question, "CATO has an agenda" is not a reason to reject the data. Either show flaw in their methodology, or contradicting data, or don't insinuate that the data presented is wrong merely because someone has an agenda. – user4012 Aug 25 '13 at 13:56

In certain respects the numbers are 'cooked', but in general definitions of 'poverty' in the US tend to exclude government benefits - often benefits that are a mixture of state funded and federally funded.

Housing costs can make a serious mess out of the numbers, with Hawaii, Connecticut, and Massachusetts being particularly noteworthy examples: very often 'public housing' was built decades ago. Thus a 'welfare mother' raising a child in a public housing project built in the 1970s might be living in a unit that cost $20,000 to build, but has a market equivalence now of $200,000. In short, if the government had to build it now, it would cost ten times as much, and if the mother moved to an unsubsidized rental property, it would cost ten times what it effectively costs the government to house her where she is. As wealthy investors buy up property in Hawaii, and financial executives run Connecticut real estate prices into the stratosphere, 'welfare' housing costs are adjusted for prevailing market rates. In such circumstances it doesn't take much to exceed '100%' of 'median salary'.

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