Social Approval, Values, and AFDC: A Reexamination of the Illegitimacy Debate
AbstractThis paper models the fertility decision of individuals who differ in their wage rate and their intensity of preferences for rearing children, and whose utility of having a child out of wedlock depends on the level of "social approval" associated with doing so. This social approval in turn is a function of the fraction of individuals in previous generations that chose to have children out of wedlock. The model is a straightforward extension of the typical rational choice model that motivates much of the empirical literaturea literature that has cast doubt on a strong link between AFDC and illegitimacy. However, the model introduces elements from epidemic models that many have in mind when arguing for such a link. As a result, the predictions of this extended model are consistent with empirical findings while at the same time linking the rise in illegitimacy solely to government welfare programs. Specifically, a program similar to AFDC is introduced into an economy with low illegitimacy rates, and a transition path to a new steady state is calculated. Along the transition path, observed cases of illegitimacy are rising among both the poor and nonpoor despite the fact that AFDC payments are held constant or even falling. The simultaneous trends of declining real welfare benefits and rising illegitimacy over the past two and a half decades are therefore not inconsistent with the view that illegitimacy might be caused primarily by government welfare policies. Although this paper certainly does not claim to prove such a link, it does suggest that current empirical approaches have been focused too much on an artificially narrow model and have thus given rise to results that can be differently interpreted in the context of a more natural model. At the same time, the model also suggests that welfare reform aimed at reducing the incentives for poor women to have out-of-wedlock births may not be as effective as policy makers who believe in a causal link between AFDC and illegitimacy might suspect.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
Bibliographic InfoArticle provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal Journal of Political Economy.
Volume (Year): 109 (2001)
Issue (Month): 3 (June)
Contact details of provider:
Web page: http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/JPE/
Other versions of this item:
- Thomas J. Nechyba, 1999. "Social Approval, Values, and AFDC: A Re-Examination of the Illegitimacy Debate," NBER Working Papers 7240, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Kandori, Michihiro, 1992.
"Social Norms and Community Enforcement,"
Review of Economic Studies,
Wiley Blackwell, vol. 59(1), pages 63-80, January.
- Lindbeck, Assar & Nyberg, Sten & Weibull, Jörgen W., 1997.
"Social Norms, the Welfare State, and Voting,"
608, Stockholm University, Institute for International Economic Studies.
- Lindbeck, A & Nyberg, S & Weibull, J-W, 1996. "Social Norms, the Welfare State, and Voting," Papers 608, Stockholm - International Economic Studies.
- Lindbeck, Assar & Nyberg, Sten & Weibull, Jörgen, 1996. "Social Norms, the Welfare State, and Voting," Working Paper Series 453, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
- Akerlof, George A, 1980.
"A Theory of Social Custom, of Which Unemployment May be One Consequence,"
The Quarterly Journal of Economics,
MIT Press, vol. 94(4), pages 749-75, June.
- George A. Akerlof, 1978. "A theory of social custom, of which unemployment may be one consequence," Special Studies Papers 118, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
- Bernheim, B Douglas, 1994. "A Theory of Conformity," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(5), pages 841-77, October.
- Besley, T. & Coate, S., 1990.
"Understanding Welfare Stigma: Taxpayer Resentment And Statistical Discrimination,"
42, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Discussion Paper.
- Besley, Timothy & Coate, Stephen, 1992. "Understanding welfare stigma: Taxpayer resentment and statistical discrimination," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(2), pages 165-183, July.
- Bikhchandani, Sushil & Hirshleifer, David & Welch, Ivo, 1992.
"A Theory of Fads, Fashion, Custom, and Cultural Change in Informational Cascades,"
Journal of Political Economy,
University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(5), pages 992-1026, October.
- Sushil Bikhchandani & David Hirshleifer & Ivo Welch, 2010. "A theory of Fads, Fashion, Custom and cultural change as informational Cascades," Levine's Working Paper Archive 1193, David K. Levine.
- Katz, Michael L & Shapiro, Carl, 1986. "Technology Adoption in the Presence of Network Externalities," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(4), pages 822-41, August.
- Conlisk, John, 1980. "Costly optimizers versus cheap imitators," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 1(3), pages 275-293, September.
- Akerlof, George A & Yellen, Janet L & Katz, Michael L, 1996. "An Analysis of Out-of-Wedlock Childbearing in the United States," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 111(2), pages 277-317, May.
- Schelling, Thomas C, 1969. "Models of Segregation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 59(2), pages 488-93, May.
- Greif, Avner, 1994. "Cultural Beliefs and the Organization of Society: A Historical and Theoretical Reflection on Collectivist and Individualist Societies," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(5), pages 912-50, October.
- Robert Moffitt & David Ribar & Mark Wilhelm, 1999.
"The Decline of Welfare Benefits in the U.S.: The Role of Wage Inequality,"
NBER Working Papers
5774, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Moffitt, Robert & Ribar, David & Wilhelm, Mark, 1998. "The decline of welfare benefits in the U.S.: the role of wage inequality," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(3), pages 421-452, June.
- Robert Moffitt & David Ribar & Mark Wilhelm, 1998. "The Decline of Welfare Benefits in the US: The Role of Wage Inequality," Economics Working Paper Archive 373, The Johns Hopkins University,Department of Economics.
- Durlauf, Steven N, 1996.
" A Theory of Persistent Income Inequality,"
Journal of Economic Growth,
Springer, vol. 1(1), pages 75-93, March.
- Hilary Williamson Hoynes, 1996. "Work, Welfare, and Family Structure: What Have We Learned?," NBER Working Papers 5644, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Robins, Philip K, 1986. "Child Support, Welfare Dependency, and Poverty," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(4), pages 768-88, September.
- M. Kandori & G. Mailath & R. Rob, 1999.
"Learning, Mutation and Long Run Equilibria in Games,"
Levine's Working Paper Archive
500, David K. Levine.
- Kandori, Michihiro & Mailath, George J & Rob, Rafael, 1993. "Learning, Mutation, and Long Run Equilibria in Games," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 61(1), pages 29-56, January.
- Kandori, M. & Mailath, G.J., 1991. "Learning, Mutation, And Long Run Equilibria In Games," Papers 71, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - John M. Olin Program.
- Hilary Williamson Hoynes, 1995.
"Does Welfare Play Any Role in Female Headship Decisions?,"
NBER Working Papers
5149, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- H. W. Hoynes, . "Does welfare play any role in female headship decisions?," Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Papers 1078-95, University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty.
- Clarke, G.R.G. & Strauss, R.P., 1994. "Children as Income Produting Assets: The Case of Teen Illegitimacy and Government Transfers," RCER Working Papers 389, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).
- Sugden, Robert, 1989. "Spontaneous Order," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 3(4), pages 85-97, Fall.
- repec:fth:iniesr:453 is not listed on IDEAS
- Jeff Grogger & Stephen G. Bronars, 2001.
"The Effect of Welfare Payments on the Marriage and Fertility Behavior of Unwed Mothers: Results from a Twins Experiment,"
Journal of Political Economy,
University of Chicago Press, vol. 109(3), pages 529-545, June.
- Jeff Grogger & Stephen G. Bronars, 1997. "The Effect of Welfare Payments on the Marriage and Fertility Behavior of Unwed Mothers: Results from a Twins Experiment," NBER Working Papers 6047, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Young, H Peyton, 1993. "The Evolution of Conventions," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 61(1), pages 57-84, January.
- Murray, Charles, 1993. "Welfare and the Family: The U.S. Experience," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 11(1), pages S224-62, January.
- Greg Duncan & Saul Hoffman, 1990. "Welfare benefits, economic opportunities, and out-of-wedlock births among black teenage girls," Demography, Springer, vol. 27(4), pages 519-535, November.
This item has more than 25 citations. To prevent cluttering this page, these citations are listed on a separate page. reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.Access and download statisticsgeneral information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Journals Division).
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.