Perhaps the most significant change in federal welfare reform policy in 1996 was the sixty-month lifetime limit. An identical change was also made at the state level in California in 1998. When the first cohort of welfare recipients reached its lifetime limit, or timed out, in California on 1 January 2003, a disproportionate number of timed-out individuals shared a common characteristic—they were Asian American. After disaggregating country-level data, one can see that the majority of Asian Americans who were timed out were of Southeast Asian descent. Analysis indicates that Asian Americans are disproportionately represented in the timed-out cohort because they face barriers that place them in the ‘hard-to-employ’ category of welfare recipients. For Asian Americans, these barriers include: mental and physical health issues, low educational attainment, limited work experience, and limited English proficiency. In addition to falling into the hard-to-employ category, Asian Americans are also impeded in their attempts to move off of welfare before reaching their lifetime limit by stringent and constrictive ‘work-first’ policies. It is the purpose of this article to analyze the factors leading to a disproportionate number of Asian Americans in California being pushed off of welfare because they reach their lifetime welfare time limit of sixty months, even though they are employed during their time on welfare.This is interesting since when many people in America think of welfare they normally think of "unwed Black mothers," which is the prevailing stereotype in this country due to much racist rhetoric coming from all sorts of people in the media (newscasters, politicians, pundits, etc.). This also touches on another stereotype, the stereotype of the "model minority." (for more on the model minority myth see "'The Asians Have Landed!'") As that old right-wing Reganite TV show adage goes, "And now you know, and knowing is half the battle."
I just read an interesting abstract from the Asian American Policy Review about an article that focuses on welfare and Asian Americans; the article in full is Nakano, Dana Y. "Out of Time: Asian Americans, Time Limits, and Welfare Reform in California." Asian American Policy Review 15: 31-47. You can probably download it for free but I'm no 100% sure because I think the website is automatically signing me in on my school library's account. The abstract read: