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The Effect of Welfare on Marriage and Fertility: What Do We Know and What Do We Need to Know?

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  • R. A. Moffitt

Abstract

The recent literature on the effects of welfare on marriage and fertility includes studies employing a wide variety of methodologies and data sets and covering different time periods. A majority of the studies show that welfare has a significantly negative effect on marriage or positive effect on fertility rather than none at all, and thus the current consensus is that the welfare system probably has some effect on these demographic outcomes. Considerable uncertainty surrounds this consensus because a sizable minority of the studies find no effect at all, because the magnitudes of the estimated effects vary widely, and because puzzling and unexplained differences exist across the studies by race and methodological approach. At present, and with the information provided in the studies, the source of these disparities cannot be determined. While a neutral weighing of the evidence still leads to the conclusion that the welfare system affects marriage and fertility, research needs to be conducted to resolve the conflicting findings.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty in its series Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Papers with number 1153-97.

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Handle: RePEc:wop:wispod:1153-97

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  1. Allen, Douglas W, 1993. "Welfare and the Family: The Canadian Experience," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 11(1), pages S201-23, January.
  2. Mark R. Rosenzweig & Kenneth I. Wolpin, 1994. "Inequality among Young Adult Siblings, Public Assistance Programs, and Intergenerational Living Arrangements," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 29(4), pages 1101-1125.
  3. Matthews, S. & Ribar, D. & Wilhelm, M., 1995. "The Effects of Economic Conditions and Access to Reproductive Health Services on State Abortion and Birth Rates," Papers 4-95-15, Pennsylvania State - Department of Economics.
  4. Darity, William, Jr & Myers, Samuel L, Jr, 1983. "Changes in Black Family Structure: Implications for Welfare Dependency," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(2), pages 59-64, May.
  5. Moffitt, Robert, 1990. "The effect of the U.S. welfare system on marital status," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(1), pages 101-124, February.
  6. Hilary Williamson Hoynes, 1995. "Does Welfare Play Any Role in Female Headship Decisions?," NBER Working Papers 5149, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Rebecca M. Blank & Christine C. George & Rebecca A. London, 1994. "State Abortion Rates: The Impact of Policies, Providers, Politics, Demographics, and Economic Environment," NBER Working Papers 4853, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Schultz, T. Paul, 1998. "Eroding the economic foundations of marriage and fertility in the United States," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 9(4), pages 391-413, December.
  9. Lundberg, S. & Plotnick, R.D., 1994. "Adolescent Premarital Childbearing: Do Economic Incentives Matters?," Discussion Papers in Economics at the University of Washington 94-4, Department of Economics at the University of Washington.
  10. Anne E. Winkler, 1995. "Does AFDC-up encourage two-parent families?," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 14(1), pages 4-24.
  11. 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.
  12. Saul D. Hoffman & Greg J. Duncan, 1988. "A Comparison of Choice-Based Multinomial and Nested Logit Models: The Family Structure and Welfare Use Decisions of Divorced or Separated Women," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 23(4), pages 550-562.
  13. Gregory Acs, 1996. "The Impact of Welfare on Young Mothers' Subsequent Childbearing Decisions," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 31(4), pages 898-915.
  14. Danziger, Sheldon, et al, 1982. "Work and Welfare as Determinants of Female Poverty and Household Headship," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 97(3), pages 519-34, August.
  15. An, Chong-Bum & Haveman, Robert & Wolfe, Barbara, 1993. "Teen Out-of-Wedlock Births and Welfare Receipt: The Role of Childhood Events and Economic Circumstances," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 75(2), pages 195-208, May.
  16. Greg Duncan & Saul Hoffman, 1990. "Welfare benefits, economic opportunities, and out-of-wedlock births among black teenage girls," Demography, Springer, vol. 27(4), pages 519-535, November.
  17. Aaron S. Yelowitz, 1998. "Will Extending Medicaid to Two-Parent Families Encourage Marriage?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 33(4), pages 833-865.
  18. Hutchens, Robert M, 1979. "Welfare, Remarriage, and Marital Search," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 69(3), pages 369-79, June.
  19. Robert Hutchens & George Jakubson & Saul Schwartz, 1989. "AFDC and the Formation of Subfamilies," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 24(4), pages 599-628.
  20. 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.
  21. Saul D. Hoffman & Greg J. Duncan, 1995. "The Effect of Incomes, Wages, and AFDC Benefits on Marital Disruption," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 30(1), pages 19-41.
  22. 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.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Francine D. Blau & Lawrence M. Kahn & Jane Waldfogel, 2002. "The Impact of Welfare Benefits on Single Motherhood and Headship of Young Women: Evidence from the Census," NBER Working Papers 9338, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. 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.
  3. S. McLanahan & I. Garfinkel, . "The Fragile Families and Child Well-Being Study: Questions, Design, and a Few Preliminary Results," Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Papers 1208-00, University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty.
  4. Francine D. Blau & Lawrence M. Kahn & Jane Waldfogel, 2000. "Understanding young women's marriage decisions: The role of labor and marriage market conditions," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 53(4), pages 624-647, July.
  5. Jessica Todd & Paul Winters & Guy Stecklov, 2012. "Evaluating the impact of conditional cash transfer programs on fertility: the case of the Red de Protección Social in Nicaragua," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 25(1), pages 267-290, January.
  6. Ohinata, Asako, 2008. "Fertility Response to Financial Incentives-Evidence from the Working Families Tax Credit in the UK," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 851, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  7. Christina Paxson & Jane Waldfogel, 1999. "Work, Welfare, and Child Maltreatment," NBER Working Papers 7343, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. R. Haveman & B. Wolfe, . "Welfare to Work in the U.S.: A Model for Other Nations?," Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Papers 1159-98, University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty.
  9. Wei-Yin Hu, 1999. "Marriage and Economic Incentives: Evidence from a Welfare Experiment," JCPR Working Papers 83, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.

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