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Welfare Reform and Non-Marital Fertility in the 1990s: Evidence from Birth Records

Author

Listed:
  • Joyce Ted

    () (Baruch College, City University of NY)

  • Kaestner Robert

    () (University of Illinois at Chicago)

  • Korenman Sanders

    () (Baruch College, CUNY and NBER)

Abstract

The 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act dramatically altered the economic incentive to bear children out-of-wedlock for economically disadvantaged women or couples most likely to avail themselves of welfare programs. We use data from vital statistics and a difference-in-differences research design to investigate whether state and federal welfare reform in the 1990s reduced rates of non-marital childbearing among women aged 19 to 39 at highest risk of welfare use, relative to women at lower risk. We find little consistent evidence for an effect of welfare reform on non-marital childbearing. This finding is similar to the literature that found little or mixed evidence for an effect of AFDC benefits. If anything, federal welfare reform has been associated with a small positive effect of two to three percent for white and black women ages 19 to 39.

Suggested Citation

  • Joyce Ted & Kaestner Robert & Korenman Sanders, 2003. "Welfare Reform and Non-Marital Fertility in the 1990s: Evidence from Birth Records," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 3(1), pages 1-36, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:bpj:bejeap:v:advances.3:y:2003:i:1:n:6
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Dave M. O'Neill & June Ellenoff O'Neill, 1997. "Lessons for Welfare Reform: An Analysis of the AFDC Caseload and Past Welfare-to-Work Programs," Books from Upjohn Press, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, number lwr.
    2. Moffitt, Robert, 1992. "Incentive Effects of the U.S. Welfare System: A Review," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, pages 1-61.
    3. Bruce D. Meyer & Dan T. Rosenbaum, 2001. "Welfare, the Earned Income Tax Credit, and the Labor Supply of Single Mothers," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(3), pages 1063-1114.
    4. Neeraj Kaushal & Robert Kaestner, 2001. "From Welfare to Work: Has Welfare Reform Worked?," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 20(4), pages 699-719.
    5. Melissa Schettini Kearney, 2004. "Is There an Effect of Incremental Welfare Benefits on Fertility Behavior?: A Look at the Family Cap," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(2).
    6. 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.
    7. Marianne Bertrand & Esther Duflo & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2004. "How Much Should We Trust Differences-In-Differences Estimates?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 119(1), pages 249-275.
    8. Becker, Gary S & Lewis, H Gregg, 1973. "On the Interaction between the Quantity and Quality of Children," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(2), pages 279-288, Part II, .
    9. Ann E. Horvath-Rose & H. Elizabeth Peters, 2000. "Welfare Waivers and Non-Marital Childbearing," JCPR Working Papers 128, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
    10. Jeffrey Grogger, 2004. "Time Limits and Welfare Use," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(2).
    11. Bruce D. Meyer & Dan T. Rosenbaum, 1999. "Making Single Mothers Work: Recent Tax and Welfare Policy and its Effects," JCPR Working Papers 152, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
    12. 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.
    13. Meyer, Bruce D. & Rosenbaum, Dan T., 2000. "Making Single Mothers Work: Recent Tax and Welfare Policy and Its Effects," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 53(4), pages 1027-1062, December.
    14. Marcia K. Meyers & Janet C. Gornick & Laura R. Peck, 2001. "Packaging Support for Low-Income Families: Policy Variation across the United States," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 20(3), pages 457-483.
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:lan:wpaper:2161 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. repec:lan:wpaper:2159 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. repec:lan:wpaper:2277 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Korenman Sanders & Joyce Ted & Kaestner Robert & Walper Jennifer, 2006. "What Did the "Illegitimacy Bonus" Reward?," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, pages 1-36.
    5. Kearney, Melissa S. & Levine, Phillip B., 2015. "Investigating recent trends in the U.S. teen birth rate," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 15-29.
    6. repec:lan:wpaper:2415 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Melissa Schettini Kearney & Phillip B. Levine, 2012. "Explaining Recent Trends in the U.S. Teen Birth Rate," NBER Working Papers 17964, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Paul Bingley & Ian Walker, 2013. "The labour supply effects of a partial cash-out of in-kind transfers to single mothers," IZA Journal of Labor Economics, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 2(1), pages 1-27, December.
    9. repec:lan:wpaper:599359 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Korenman Sanders & Joyce Ted & Kaestner Robert & Walper Jennifer, 2006. "What Did the "Illegitimacy Bonus" Reward?," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, pages 1-36.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I3 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty
    • J1 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics

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