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Work, Welfare, and Child Maltreatment

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  • Christina Paxson
  • Jane Waldfogel

Abstract

This paper examines how child maltreatment is affected by the economic circumstances of parents. 'Child maltreatment' encompasses a wide range of behaviors that adversely affect children. It includes neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse, and other forms of abuse or neglect. Using state-level panel data on the numbers of reports and substantiated cases of maltreatment, we examine whether socioeconomic factors play different roles for these different types of maltreatment. A key finding is that the economic circumstances of parents matter: increases in the fractions of children with absent fathers and working mothers are related to increases in many of the measures of maltreatment, as are increases in the share of families with two non-working parents, and those with incomes below 75 percent of the poverty line. We also examine the links between family structure, welfare benefits, and child maltreatment. Welfare programs affect the incentives of women and men to work and to live in single or dual-parent families. By changing the family structure and work behavior of parents as well as their incomes, welfare reforms can be expected to affect the incidence of child maltreatment. Although is too early to accurately determine what the effects of the recent reforms will be, our analysis indicates that: 1) consistent with other research, the characteristics of state's welfare systems have affected the work behavior and structure of families during the 1977-1996 time period; 2) decreases in a state's welfare benefit levels are associated with large increases in child neglect, and with small decreases in physical abuse.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 7343.

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Date of creation: Sep 1999
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Publication status: published as Paxson, Christina and Jane Waldfogel. "Work, Welfare, And Child Maltreatment," Journal of Labor Economics, 2002, v20(3,Jul), 435-474.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:7343

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  1. R. A. Moffitt, . "The Effect of Welfare on Marriage and Fertility: What Do We Know and What Do We Need to Know?," Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Papers 1153-97, University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty.
  2. Sara Markowitz & Michael Grossman, 1999. "Alcohol Regulation and Violence Towards Children," NBER Working Papers 6359, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. 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.
  4. J. P. Ziliak & D. N. Figlio & E. E. Davis & L. S. Connolly, . "Accounting for the Decline in AFDC Caseloads: Welfare Reform or Economic Growth?," Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Papers 1151-97, University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty.
  5. Christopher J. Ruhm, 1996. "Are Recessions Good For Your Health?," NBER Working Papers 5570, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Deaton, Angus, 1985. "Panel data from time series of cross-sections," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 30(1-2), pages 109-126.
  7. Goldsmith, Arthur H. & Veum, Jonathan R. & Darity, William Jr., 1996. "The psychological impact of unemployment and joblessness," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 25(3), pages 333-358.
  8. Robert A. Moffitt, 1999. "The Effect of Pre-PRWORA Waivers on AFDC Caseloads and Female Earnings, Income, and Labor Force Behavior," JCPR Working Papers 89, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
  9. David M. Blau, 1999. "The Effect Of Income On Child Development," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 81(2), pages 261-276, May.
  10. Rebecca M. Blank, 2001. "What Causes Public Assistance Caseloads to Grow?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 36(1), pages 85-118.
  11. Shook, Kristen, 1999. "Does the loss of welfare income increase the risk of involvement with the child welfare system?," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 21(9-10), pages 781-814.
  12. Mary Corcoran & Roger Gordon & Deborah Laren & Gary Solon, 1992. "The Association between Men's Economic Status and Their Family and Community Origins," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 27(4), pages 575-601.
  13. Kristen Shook Slack, 1999. "Does the Loss of Welfare Income Increase the Risk of Involvement with the Child Welfare System?," JCPR Working Papers 65, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
  14. Jane Waldfogel & Christina Paxson, 1999. "Parental Resources and Child Abuse and Neglect," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(2), pages 239-244, May.
  15. Hilary Williamson Hoynes, 1996. "Work, Welfare, and Family Structure: What Have We Learned?," NBER Working Papers 5644, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Cited by:
  1. Christina Paxson & Jane Waldfogel, 2001. "Welfare Reforms, Family Resources, and Child Maltreatment," Working Papers 264, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Center for Health and Wellbeing..
  2. Malcolm, Michael & Dugda, Getachew, 2012. "Child abuse: Does public enforcement crowd out private vigilance?," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 114(1), pages 106-108.
  3. Rajeev Dehejia & Adriana Lleras-Muney, 2003. "The Timing of Births: Is the Health of Infants Counter-Cyclical?," NBER Working Papers 10122, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Reinhold, Steffen & Kneip, Thorsten & Bauer, Gerrit, 2011. "The Long Run Consequences of Unilateral Divorce Laws on Children –Evidence from SHARELIFE," MEA discussion paper series, Munich Center for the Economics of Aging (MEA) at the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy 11240, Munich Center for the Economics of Aging (MEA) at the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy.
  5. Julio Cáceres-Delpiano & Eugenio Giolito, 2008. "The impact of unilateral divorce on crime," Economics Working Papers we081006, Universidad Carlos III, Departamento de Economía.
  6. Currie, Janet & Tekin, Erdal, 2006. "Does Child Abuse Cause Crime?," IZA Discussion Papers 2063, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  7. Akabayashi, Hideo, 2006. "An equilibrium model of child maltreatment," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 30(6), pages 993-1025, June.
  8. Berger, Lawrence M., 2004. "Income, family structure, and child maltreatment risk," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 26(8), pages 725-748, August.
  9. Berger, Lawrence M., 2006. "Children living out-of-home: Effects of family and environmental characteristics," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 28(2), pages 158-179, February.
  10. Scarborough, Anita A. & McCrae, Julie S., 2010. "School-age special education outcomes of infants and toddlers investigated for maltreatment," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 80-88, January.
  11. Beimers, David & Coulton, Claudia J., 2011. "Do employment and type of exit influence child maltreatment among families leaving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families?," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 33(7), pages 1112-1119, July.
  12. Waldfogel, Jane, 2000. "Child welfare research: How adequate are the data?," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 22(9-10), pages 705-741.
  13. Waldfogel, Jane, 2004. "Welfare reform and the child welfare system," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 26(10), pages 919-939, October.
  14. Rebecca M. Blank, 2002. "Evaluating Welfare Reform in the United States," NBER Working Papers 8983, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. O'Flaherty, Brendan, 2004. "Wrong person and wrong place: for homelessness, the conjunction is what matters," Journal of Housing Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 13(1), pages 1-15, March.
  16. Millett, Lina & Lanier, Paul & Drake, Brett, 2011. "Are economic trends associated with child maltreatment? Preliminary results from the recent recession using state level data," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 33(7), pages 1280-1287, July.

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