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Welfare reform, time limits, and infant health


  • Leonard, Jonathan
  • Mas, Alexandre


This paper offers evidence that welfare time limits contributed to a deterioration of infant health. We use the fact that the dates at which TANF recipients were first subject to timing out varied by state. We show that by 2000 there was a marked difference in TANF duration spells depending on whether the state employed the 60-month Federally imposed time limit, or a shorter limit, differences that were not present under AFDC. There were significant increases in infant mortality when time limits became binding in a state. These increases occurred primarily among mothers who could have plausibly timed-out of TANF: poorly educated and unmarried women with at least one previous live-birth. There is some evidence that the population of mothers affected by time limits were less likely to seek prenatal care in the first trimester, suggesting a possible role for reduced medical care in explaining the deterioration in infant health.

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  • Leonard, Jonathan & Mas, Alexandre, 2008. "Welfare reform, time limits, and infant health," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(6), pages 1551-1566, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jhecon:v:27:y:2008:i:6:p:1551-1566

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Elder, Todd E. & Goddeeris, John H. & Haider, Steven J., 2016. "Racial and ethnic infant mortality gaps and the role of socio-economic status," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 42-54.
    2. Hope Corman & Dhaval M. Dave & Nancy E. Reichman, 2017. "Evolution of the Infant Health Production Function," NBER Working Papers 24131, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Averett, Susan L. & Wang, Yang, 2015. "The Effects of the Earned Income Tax Credit on Children's Health, Quality of Home Environment, and Non-Cognitive Skills," IZA Discussion Papers 9173, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    4. Ayala, Luis & Rodríguez, Magdalena, 2013. "Health-related effects of welfare-to-work policies," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 93(C), pages 103-112.


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