Objective. We estimate a model of social-psychological determinants of entry into Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), the primary cash welfare program in the United States until 1996. Methods. Using information from the youngest cohorts of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, we estimate logit models of the probability of ever participating in AFDC and hazard models of the timing until first use of AFDC. Results. We find strong associations between welfare use and several attitudes and personality characteristics, but with two exceptions, most of the associations are not robust to the inclusion of exogenous background characteristics. There is consistent, strong evidence that positive attitudes toward school lower the likelihood of using welfare and increase duration until first receipt. Family background and social environment characteristics show strong robust effects. Conclusions. Our results point to relatively weak evidence for the hypothesis that individual attitudes in adolescence have a significant impact on initial welfare receipt.