The topic of this dissertation is social assistance dynamics in Norway. The dissertation describes the duration of social assistance spells and their histories, and whether there are more short-term or long-term recipients. Furthermore, the dissertation provides empirical evidence on whether social assistance traps the recipients into remaining in that role. The Norwegian government expresses deep concern about children growing up in families that receive social assistance. The dissertation puts forward empirical analyses of income development in such families. The political fear of entrapment and the focus on active labour market policy is closely connected, and two separate articles question whether the strong belief among politicians in such a policy is realistic.