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Effects of Welfare Reform on Educational Acquisition of Young Adult Women

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  • Dhaval M. Dave
  • Nancy E. Reichman
  • Hope Corman

Abstract

Education beyond traditional ages for schooling is an important source of human capital acquisition among adult women. Welfare reform, which began in the early 1990s and culminated in the passage of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act in 1996, has promoted work rather than educational acquisition for this group. Exploiting variation in welfare reform across states and over time and using relevant comparison groups, we undertake a comprehensive study of the effects of welfare reform on adult women’s educational acquisition. We first estimate effects of welfare reform on high school drop-out of teenage girls, both to improve on past research on this issue and to explore compositional changes that may be relevant for our primary analyses of the effects of welfare reform on the educational acquisition of adult women. We conduct numerous specification checks and explore the mediating role of work. We find robust and convincing evidence that welfare reform significantly decreased the probability of college enrollment among adult women, by at least 20 %. It also appears to have decreased the probability of high school enrollment on the same order of magnitude. These results suggest that the gains from welfare reform in terms of increases in employment and reductions in caseloads have come at a cost in terms of lower educational attainment among adult women at risk for relying on welfare.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 14466.

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Date of creation: Nov 2008
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Publication status: published as Dhaval M. Dave, Hope Corman & Nancy E. Reichman, 2012. "Effects of Welfare Reform on Educational Acquisition of Adult Women," Journal of Labor Research, vol. 33(2), pages 251-282.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14466

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  1. Thomas S. Dee & Brian A. Jacob, 2006. "Do High School Exit Exams Influence Educational Attainment or Labor Market Performance?," NBER Working Papers 12199, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Robert Kaestner & Sanders Korenman & June O'Neill, 2003. "Has welfare reform changed teenage behaviors?," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 22(2), pages 225-248.
  3. Jeff Grogger, 2000. "Time Limits and Welfare Use," NBER Working Papers 7709, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Robert F. Schoeni & Rebecca M. Blank, 2000. "What has Welfare Reform Accomplished? Impacts on Welfare Participation, Employment, Income, Poverty, and Family Structure," NBER Working Papers 7627, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Duane E. Leigh & Andrew M. Gill, 1997. "Labor Market Returns to Community Colleges: Evidence for Returning Adults," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 32(2), pages 334-353.
  6. Moffitt, Robert, 1992. "Incentive Effects of the U.S. Welfare System: A Review," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 30(1), pages 1-61, March.
  7. Monks, James, 1997. "The impact of college timing on earnings," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 16(4), pages 419-423, October.
  8. Rebecca M. Blank, 2002. "Evaluating Welfare Reform in the United States," NBER Working Papers 8983, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Hope Corman, 1983. "Postsecondary Education Enrollment Responses by Recent High School Graduates and Older Adults," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 18(2), pages 247-267.
  10. Marianne Bitler & Jonah Gelbach & Hilary Hoynes, 2004. "Welfare Reform and Health," NBER Working Papers 10549, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Thomas DeLeire & Judith A. Levine & Helen Levy, 2006. "Is Welfare Reform Responsible for Low-Skilled Women’s Declining Health Insurance Coverage in the 1990s?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 41(3).
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Cited by:
  1. Kim, Jeounghee & Joo, Myungkook, 2011. "Did PRWORA's mandatory school attendance policy increase attendance among targeted teenage girls?," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 33(9), pages 1616-1623, September.
  2. Márton Medgyesi & Temesváry, Z., 2013. "GINI DP 84: Conditional cash transfers in high- income OECD countries and their effects on human capital accumulation," GINI Discussion Papers 84, AIAS, Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Labour Studies.

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