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Welfare Reform and Changes in the Economic Well-Being of Children

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  • Neil G. Bennett
  • Hsien-Hen Lu
  • Younghwan Song
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    Abstract

    Since the implementation of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program in late-1996, welfare rolls have declined by more than half. This paper explores whether improvements in the economic well-being of children have accompanied this dramatic reduction in welfare participation. Further, we examine the degree to which the success or failure of welfare reform has been shared equally among families of varying educational background. We analyze data from the March Current Population Surveys over the years 1988 through 2001. Specifically, we link data for families with children who are interviewed in adjacent years and determine whether their economic circumstances either improved or deteriorated. We use two alternative approaches to address this general issue: a variety of regression models and a difference-in-differences methodology. These approaches provide consistent answers. In a bivariate framework TANF is associated with higher incomes; but this association becomes insignificant in the presence of business cycle controls. We also determine that children who were poor at an initial time period benefit differently, depending on their parents' educational attainment level. Poor children with parents who do not have a high school degree are significantly worse off in the TANF era, relative to the era prior to welfare reform, than are their more educated counterparts.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 9399.

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    Date of creation: Dec 2002
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    Publication status: published as Bennett, Neil G., Hsien-Hen Lu, and Younghwan Song. "Welfare Reform and Changes in the Economic Well-Being of Children." Population Research and Policy Review 23, 5-6 (Special Issue October-December 2004): 671-99.
    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9399

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    1. Meyer, Bruce D, 1995. "Natural and Quasi-experiments in Economics," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 13(2), pages 151-61, April.
    2. Laura Stander Connolly, 2000. "The Effect of Welfare Reform on the Incomes and Earnings of Low-Income Families: Evidence from the Current Population Survey," JCPR Working Papers 181, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
    3. Heckman, James, 2013. "Sample selection bias as a specification error," Applied Econometrics, Publishing House "SINERGIA PRESS", vol. 31(3), pages 129-137.
    4. Levy, Frank & Murnane, Richard J, 1992. "U.S. Earnings Levels and Earnings Inequality: A Review of Recent Trends and Proposed Explanations," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 30(3), pages 1333-81, September.
    5. Rebecca M. Blank, 2002. "Evaluating Welfare Reform in the United States," NBER Working Papers 8983, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Dan Lichter & Leif Jensen, 2000. "Rural America in Transition: Poverty and Welfare at the Turn of the 21st Century," JCPR Working Papers 187, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
    7. Brigitte C. Madrian & Lars John Lefgren, 1999. "A Note on Longitudinally Matching Current Population Survey (CPS) Respondents," NBER Technical Working Papers 0247, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    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. Adrian Mander & David Clayton, 2000. "Hotdeck imputation," Stata Technical Bulletin, StataCorp LP, vol. 9(51).
    10. Finis Welch, 1993. "Matching the Current Population Surveys," Stata Technical Bulletin, StataCorp LP, vol. 2(12).
    11. 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.
    12. Peracchi, Franco & Welch, Finis, 1995. "How representative are matched cross-sections? Evidence from the Current Population Survey," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 153-179, July.
    13. Juhn, Chinhui & Murphy, Kevin M & Pierce, Brooks, 1993. "Wage Inequality and the Rise in Returns to Skill," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(3), pages 410-42, June.
    14. White, Halbert, 1980. "A Heteroskedasticity-Consistent Covariance Matrix Estimator and a Direct Test for Heteroskedasticity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 48(4), pages 817-38, May.
    15. White, Halbert, 1982. "Maximum Likelihood Estimation of Misspecified Models," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(1), pages 1-25, January.
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    Cited by:
    1. Coley, Rebekah Levine & Lohman, Brenda J. & Votruba-Drzal, Elizabeth & Pittman, Laura D. & Chase-Lansdale, P. Lindsay, 2007. "Maternal functioning, time, and money: The world of work and welfare," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 29(6), pages 721-741, June.
    2. Marianne Bitler & Jonah Gelbach & Hilary Hoynes, 2003. "What Mean Impacts Miss: Distributional Effects of Welfare Reform Experiments," NBER Working Papers 10121, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Hsien-Hen Lu & Julian Palmer & Younghwan Song & Mary C. Lennon & J. Lawrence Aber, 2004. "Children facing economic hardships in the United States," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 10(11), pages 287-338, June.

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