Work, Welfare, and Family Structure: What Have We Learned?
AbstractWelfare reform has once again made its way to the top of the domestic policy agenda. While part of the motivation behind recent reform efforts is fiscally driven, there is also an interest in making changes that address two prominent criticisms of the existing system of public assistance in the United States. First, the system has significant, adverse work incentives. Second, the system discourages the formation of two-parent families and is responsible in a major part for the high and rising rates of female headship and out-of-wedlock birth rates. This paper explores the validity of these criticisms using available empirical evidence and in turn evaluates the impact of various reforms to the system. The programs examined include Aid to Families with Dependent Children Food Stamps and Medicaid programs. The paper relies on evidence based on three sources of variation in welfare policy: cross-state variation, over time variation, and demonstration projects at the state level. The paper concludes that current reforms aimed at reducing female headship and nonmarital births such as family caps, eliminating benefits for teens, and equal treatment of two-parent families are unlikely to create large effects. Changes to implicit tax rates and benefit formulas may increase work among current recipients, but overall work effort may not be affected. These predictions should be accompanied by a word of caution. Many of the proposed changes have never been implemented at the state or federal level and require out of sample predictions. Current state experimentation may help fill this gap.
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 InfoPaper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 5644.
Date of creation: Jul 1996
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Fiscal Policy: Lessons From Economic Research, Auerbach, Alan, ed., Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997, 101-146.
Note: PE LS
Contact details of provider:
Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
Web page: http://www.nber.org
More information through EDIRC
Find related papers by JEL classification:
- I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs
- J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply
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.:
- Robert Moffitt, 1994. "Welfare Effects on Female Headship with Area Effects," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 29(2), pages 621-636.
- 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.
- Thomas J. Nechyba, 2001.
"Social Approval, Values, and AFDC: A Reexamination of the Illegitimacy Debate,"
Journal of Political Economy,
University of Chicago Press, vol. 109(3), pages 637-666, June.
- 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.
- Fitzgerald, John M. & Ribar, David C., 2003.
"Transitions in Welfare Participation and Female Headship,"
IZA Discussion Papers
895, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
- John Fitzgerald & David Ribar, 2004. "Transitions in Welfare Participation and Female Headship," Working Papers 04-01, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
- Mickey Hepner & W. Robert Reed, 2004.
"The Effect of Welfare on Work and Marriage: A View from the States,"
Cato Journal, Cato Institute, vol. 24(3), pages 349-370, Fall.
- Mickey Hepner & W. Robert Reed, 2005. "The Effect of Welfare on Work and Marriage: A View From the States," HEW 0506001, EconWPA.
- Carrington, William J. & Mueser, Peter R. & Troske, Kenneth, 2002.
"The Impact of Welfare Reform on Leaver Characteristics, Employment and Recidivism,"
IZA Discussion Papers
561, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
- Peter R. Mueser & Kenneth Troske & William J. Carrington, 2002. "The Impact of Welfare Reform on Leaver Characteristics, Employment and Recidivism," Working Papers 0205, Department of Economics, University of Missouri, revised 26 Aug 2002.
- Robert A. Moffitt, 1999. "Demographic Change and Public Assistance Expenditures," NBER Working Papers 6995, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Ellwood, David T. & Jencks, Christopher, 2004. "The Spread of Single-Parent Families in the United States since 1960," Working Paper Series rwp04-008, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
- repec:ese:emodwp:em7-08 is not listed on IDEAS
- Christina Paxson & Jane Waldfogel, 2002.
"Work, Welfare, and Child Maltreatment,"
Journal of Labor Economics,
University of Chicago Press, vol. 20(3), pages 435-474, July.
- Christina Paxson & Jane Waldfogel, 1999. "Work, Welfare, and Child Maltreatment," NBER Working Papers 7343, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Christina Paxson & Jane Waldfogel, 1999. "Work, Welfare, and Child Maltreatment," Working Papers 278, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Center for Health and Wellbeing..
- Daniel Parent & Ling Wang, 2002. "Tax Incentives and Fertility in Canada: Permanent vs. Transitory Effects," CIRANO Working Papers 2002s-29, CIRANO.
- Nezih Guner & John Knowles, 2000.
"Marriage, Fertility And Divorce: A Dynamic Equilibrium Analysis Of Social Policy In Canada,"
Computing in Economics and Finance 2000
352, Society for Computational Economics.
- Nezih Guner & John Knowles, 2001. "Marriage, Fertility and Divorce: A Dynamic Equilibrium Analysis of Social Policy in Canada," Penn CARESS Working Papers 2330ae691c785001af741e1c1, Penn Economics Department.
- H. J. Holzer, . "Employer Demand, AFDC Recipients, and Labor Market Policy," Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Papers 1115-96, University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty.
- Peter R. Mueser & Kenneth R. Troske & David R. Stevens, 2007.
"The Impact of Welfare Reform on Leaver Characteristics, Employment and Recidivism: An Analysis of Maryland and Missouri,"
0720, Department of Economics, University of Missouri.
- Mueser, Peter R. & Stevens, David W. & Troske, Kenneth, 2007. "The Impact of Welfare Reform on Leaver Characteristics, Employment and Recidivism: An Analysis of Maryland and Missouri," IZA Discussion Papers 3131, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
- Daniel Chen, 2011. "Can countries reverse fertility decline? Evidence from France’s marriage and baby bonuses, 1929–1981," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 18(3), pages 253-272, June.
- Williamson Hoyne, Hilary, 1997. "Does welfare play any role in female headship decisions?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(2), pages 89-117, August.
- Robert A. Pollak, 1998. "Notes on How Economists Think . . ," JCPR Working Papers 35, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
- Anandi Mani & Charles H. Mullin, 2001. "Social Approval and Teenage Childbearing," Vanderbilt University Department of Economics Working Papers 0103, Vanderbilt University Department of Economics.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ().
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.