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Childhood Abuse and Welfare Use


  • Mark Smith



Policies aimed at reducing welfare use focus solely on adults, yet welfare users very often report experiences of childhood abuse. Such abuse is known to have long-term psychological effects and may set the stage for later welfare use. This study uses a random sample of poor women to determine how a history of childhood abuse relates to the probability of receiving cash and in-kind assistance over a five-year period. It also investigate whether childhood abuse correlates with the length of receipt among program users. Women experiencing both physical and sexual abuse during childhood were 16–25 percentage points more likely than others to use both cash and in-kind programs as adults. Conditional on program use, there was no relation of childhood abuse to the extent of program use during the study period. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2005

Suggested Citation

  • Mark Smith, 2005. "Childhood Abuse and Welfare Use," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 3(4), pages 435-452, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:reveho:v:3:y:2005:i:4:p:435-452
    DOI: 10.1007/s11150-005-4943-z

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Sandra K. Danziger & Mary Corcoran & Sheldon Danziger & Colleen M. Heflin & Ariel Kalil & Judith Levine & Daniel Rosen & Kristin S. Seefeldt & Kristine Siefert & Richard M. Tolman, 1999. "Barriers to the Employment of Welfare Recipients," JCPR Working Papers 90, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
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    More about this item


    welfare programs; domestic violence; child abuse; Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC); Food Stamp program; I3; I12; J1;

    JEL classification:

    • I3 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty
    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • J1 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics


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