RSF: Three Decades since Making Ends Meet: What We Know about How Single-Mother Families Survive Today

By PAA Web posted 05-10-2023 12:59 PM



RSF: The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences


Three Decades since Making Ends Meet: What We Know
about How Single-Mother Families Survive Today

Edited by:
Elizabeth O. Ananat
Barnard College

Carolyn Y. Barnes
Duke University

Sandra K. Danziger
University of Michigan

Kathryn Edin
Princeton University

In their 1997 book Making Ends Meet: How Single Mothers Survive Welfare and Low-Wage Work, Kathryn Edin and Laura Lein drew new attention to the economic survival strategies of welfare-reliant single mothers in the early 1990s, a time when federal cash assistance was a commonly-used and universally available entitlement. Edin and Lein conducted innovative in-depth repeated interviews across four U.S. cities with welfare-reliant mothers and a comparison sample of low-income mothers who were not receiving welfare but working low-wage jobs. They obtained detailed accounts of how these mothers packaged income from welfare, work and other sources to "make ends meet." Interviews revealed that, even in the more generous states, it was virtually impossible for mothers to live on welfare and in-kind benefits (i.e., Food Stamps (now called SNAP), Medicaid, WIC, and, occasionally, housing subsidies) alone. The book documented how these mothers struggled to stretch these formal sources of support while supplementing this income from myriad informal sources. This in-depth qualitative study was widely read and led the way for many new studies in this field, both qualitative and quantitative.

In many ways, it has gotten even harder in the decades since for the very poorest to get by. Though welfare programs have always varied from state to state, many other policies meant to support low income families with children have devolved to the states as well. More importantly, the 1996 welfare reform and subsequent policy changes at the federal and state levels have rendered cash welfare (now called Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or TANF) virtually nonexistent in many communities.

For this volume, we solicit papers that illustrate how research on poor families headed by single parents (and low income families with children more broadly) and the policies that serve them has dramatically expanded after Making Ends Meet. We seek articles across a wide range of disciplines that use qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods.

Please click here for a full description of the topics covered in this call for papers.

Anticipated Timeline

Prospective contributors should submit a CV and an abstract (up to two pages in length, single or double spaced) of their study along with up to two pages of supporting material (e.g., tables, figures, pictures, etc.) no later than 5 PM EST on July 15, 2023 to:

NOTE that if you wish to submit an abstract and do not yet have an account with us, it can take up to 48 hours to get credentials, so please start your application at least two days before the deadline. All submissions must be original work that has not been previously published in part or in full. Only abstracts submitted to will be considered. Each paper will receive a $1,000 honorarium when the issue is published. All questions regarding this issue should be directed to Suzanne Nichols, Director of Publications, at and not to the email addresses of the editors of the issue.

A conference will take place at the Russell Sage Foundation in New York City on June 13-14, 2024. The selected contributors will gather for a one-day workshop to present draft papers (due a month prior to the conference on 5/13/24) and receive feedback from the other contributors and editors. Travel costs, food, and lodging for one author per paper will be covered by the foundation. Papers will be circulated before the conference. After the conference, the authors will submit their revised drafts by 10/19/24. The papers will then be sent out to three additional scholars for formal peer review. Having received feedback from reviewers and the RSF board, authors will revise their papers by 6/9/25. The full and final issue will be published in the fall of 2025. Papers will be published open access on the RSF website as well as in several digital repositories, including JSTOR and UPCC/Muse.

Please click here for a full description of the topics covered in this call for papers.

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