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Are lone mothers responsive to policy changes? The effects of a Norwegian workfare reform on earnings, education and poverty

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  • Magne Mogstad
  • Chiara Pronzato

Abstract

The generous Nordic model of welfare is commonly viewed as an exceptional success, in terms of both equality and economic growth. However, it recently became evident that subgroups of the population with weak labour market attachment and high welfare dependency, such as lone mothers, were vastly overrepresented among the poor. This prompted a workfare reform of the Norwegian welfare system for lone mothers: activity requirements were brought in, time limits imposed and benefit levels raised. To evaluate the reform we introduce an estimator that, unlike the much used difference-in-difference approach, accounts for the fact that policy changes are typically phased in gradually rather than coming into full effect immediately. The results were striking: the workfare reform has not only led to increased earnings and educational attainment but also reduced poverty.

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File URL: ftp://ftp.dondena.unibocconi.it/WorkingPapers/Dondena_WP008.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by "Carlo F. Dondena" Centre for Research on Social Dynamics (DONDENA), Università Commerciale Luigi Bocconi in its series Working Papers with number 008.

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Length: 27 pages
Date of creation: Oct 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:don:donwpa:008

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Keywords: welfare; lone mothers; workfare reform; difference-in-difference; activity requirements; time limits; earnings; education; poverty;

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References

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  1. Richard Burkhauser & Greg Duncan & Richard Hauser & Roland Berntsen, 1991. "Wife or frau, women do worse: A comparison of men and women in the United States and Germany after marital dissolution," Demography, Springer, vol. 28(3), pages 353-360, August.
  2. Christopher A. Swann, 2005. "Welfare Reform When Recipients Are Forward-Looking," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 40(1).
  3. Bruce D. Meyer & Dan T. Rosenbaum, 2001. "Welfare, The Earned Income Tax Credit, And The Labor Supply Of Single Mothers," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 116(3), pages 1063-1114, August.
  4. Robert Moffitt, 2002. "The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program," NBER Working Papers 8749, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Moffitt, Robert, 1985. "Unemployment insurance and the distribution of unemployment spells," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 28(1), pages 85-101, April.
  6. Richard Blundell & Alan Duncan & Julian McCrae & Costas Meghir, 2000. "The labour market impact of the working families’ tax credit," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 21(1), pages 75-103, March.
  7. John F. Ermisch & Robert E. Wright, 1991. "Welfare Benefits and Lone Parents' Employment in Great Britain," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 26(3), pages 424-456.
  8. V. Joseph Hotz & Charles H. Mullin & John Karl Scholz, 2002. "Welfare, Employment, and Income: Evidence on the Effects of Benefit Reductions from California," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(2), pages 380-384, May.
  9. repec:ese:iserwp:2006-07 is not listed on IDEAS
  10. Randi Kjeldstad & Marit R�nsen, 2004. "Welfare Rules, Business Cycles, And Employment Dynamics Among Lone Parents In Norway," Feminist Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 10(2), pages 61-89.
  11. Nada Eissa & Jeffrey B. Liebman, 1995. "Labor Supply Response to the Earned Income Tax Credit," NBER Working Papers 5158, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. LaLonde, Robert J, 1986. "Evaluating the Econometric Evaluations of Training Programs with Experimental Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(4), pages 604-20, September.
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Cited by:
  1. Nina Drange & Mari Rege, 2012. "Trapped at Home: The Effect of Mothers' Temporary Labor Market Exits on their Subsequent Work Career," CESifo Working Paper Series 3833, CESifo Group Munich.
  2. Drange, Nina & Rege, Mari, 2013. "Trapped at home: The effect of mothers' temporary labor market exits on their subsequent work career," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(C), pages 125-136.
  3. Løken, Katrine V. & Lommerud, Kjell Erik & Reiso, Katrine Holm, 2014. "Single Mothers and their children: Evaluating a work-encouraging welfare reform," Working Papers in Economics 04/14, University of Bergen, Department of Economics.
  4. Pronzato, Chiara Daniela, 2014. "Fighting Lone Mothers’ Poverty through In-Work Benefits Methodological Issues and Policy Suggestions," Department of Economics and Statistics Cognetti de Martiis. Working Papers 201420, University of Turin.
  5. Reiso, Katrine Holm, 2014. "The Effect of Welfare Reforms on Benefit Substitution," Discussion Paper Series in Economics 22/2014, Department of Economics, Norwegian School of Economics.
  6. Pronzato, Chiara D., 2012. "Comparing Quasi-Experimental Designs and Structural Models for Policy Evaluation: The Case of a Reform of Lone Parental Welfare," IZA Discussion Papers 6803, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  7. Chiara Pronzato, 2013. "Fighting Lone Mothers' Poverty through in-Work Benefits - Methodological Issues and Policy Suggestions," CESifo Working Paper Series 4375, CESifo Group Munich.

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