A Systematic Literature Review of U.S. Welfare Sanctions and Racial Equity

In the United States, welfare sanctions are designed to enforce compliance with program rules and are the most tangible and, in some cases, detrimental enforcement mechanism for recipients of public cash assistance. Whether or not they are equitably administered is critical to our understanding of the program and of safety net enforcement mechanisms across the sector. Using electronic databases of peer-reviewed articles across disciplines, this systematic literature review resulted in a deeper understanding of the research conducted related to racial inequities and welfare sanctions. The 29 studies included in this analysis highlight different rates and effects of sanctions for recipients depending on race and ethnicity. Findings are synthesized and recommendations for future research are presented.