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The Effect of Welfare Payments on the Marriage and Fertility Behavior of Unwed Mothers: Results from a Twins Experiment

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  • Jeff Grogger
  • Stephen G. Bronars

Abstract

We study one aspect of the link between welfare and unwed motherhood: the relationship between benefit levels and the time-to-first-marriage and time-to-next-birth among women whose first" child was born out of wedlock. We use twin births to generate effectively random variation in welfare benefits among mothers within a state, which allows us to control for unobservable characteristics of states that typically confound the relationship between welfare payments and behavior. The twins approach yields evidence that higher base levels of welfare benefits: (1) lead initially unwed white mothers to forestall their eventual marriage; and (2) lead initially unwed black mothers to hasten their next birth. The magnitudes of these effects are small, however. Moreover, we find no evidence that the incremental benefit paid upon the birth of an additional child affects fertility.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 6047.

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Date of creation: May 1997
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Publication status: published as Grogger, Jeff and Stephen G. Bronars. "The Effect Of Welfare Payments On The Marriage And Fertility Behavior Of Unwed Mothers: Results From A Twins Experiment," Journal of Political Economy, 2001, v109(3,Jun), 529-545.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:6047

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  1. T. Paul Schultz, 1994. "Marital Status and Fertility in the United States: Welfare and Labor Market Effects," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 29(2), pages 637-669.
  2. 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.
  3. Devine, Theresa J. & Kiefer, Nicolas M., 1991. "Empirical Labor Economics: The Search Approach," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195059366, Octomber.
  4. Bronars, Stephen G & Grogger, Jeff, 1994. "The Economic Consequences of Unwed Motherhood: Using Twin Births as a Natural Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(5), pages 1141-56, December.
  5. Rosenzweig, Mark R & Wolpin, Kenneth I, 1980. "Life-Cycle Labor Supply and Fertility: Causal Inferences from Household Models," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 88(2), pages 328-48, April.
  6. P. K. Robins & P. Fronstin, . "Welfare benefits and family-size decisions of never-married women," Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Papers 1022-93, University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty.
  7. 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.
  8. Robert Plotnick, 1983. "Turnover in the AFDC Population: An Event History Analysis," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 18(1), pages 65-81.
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