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The Demand for Welfare Generosity

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  • David C. Ribar
  • Mark O. Wilhelm

Abstract

This paper estimates economic models of the determinants of state benefit levels in the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program using 1969–1992 data. These models have been extensively researched; however, the existing literature has produced an unacceptably wide range of estimates. Using alternative econometric procedures, this paper systematically examines both the specification assumptions underlying previous analyses as well as several additional specification issues. It is, therefore, able to replicate and reconcile estimates from previous studies and to provide updated, consensus estimates of the demand for welfare generosity. It finds that changes in the average level of income within states have small but statistically significant positive effects on benefits with the confidence bounds on the elasticity extending from 0.11 to 0.82. Changes in the effective price of redistribution are found to have, at most, weak negative effects with elasticities in the range of -0.14 to 0.02. These results are used to evaluate the effects of block grant provisions in the recently enacted welfare reform legislation. © 1999 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Suggested Citation

  • David C. Ribar & Mark O. Wilhelm, 1999. "The Demand for Welfare Generosity," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 81(1), pages 96-108, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:tpr:restat:v:81:y:1999:i:1:p:96-108
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Linda Toolsema & Maarten Allers, 2014. "Welfare Financing: Grant Allocation and Efficiency," De Economist, Springer, vol. 162(2), pages 147-166, June.
    2. Masayoshi Hayashi, 2017. "Do Central Grants Affect Welfare Caseloads? Evidence from Public Assistance in Japan," CIRJE F-Series CIRJE-F-1064, CIRJE, Faculty of Economics, University of Tokyo.
    3. Howard Chernick, 1998. "Fiscal Effects of Block Grants for the Needy: An Interpretation of the Evidence," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 5(2), pages 205-233, May.
    4. Robert A. Moffitt, 2003. "The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program," NBER Chapters,in: Means-Tested Transfer Programs in the United States, pages 291-364 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. repec:dgr:rugsom:12004-eef is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Francine D. Blau & Lawrence M. Kahn & FJane Waldfogel, 2004. "The Impact of Welfare Benefits on Single Motherhood and Headship of Young Women: Evidence from the Census," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(2).
    7. Robert Moffitt, 1999. "Explaining Welfare Reform: Public Choice and the Labor Market," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 6(3), pages 289-315, August.
    8. Moffitt, Robert & Ribar, David & Wilhelm, Mark, 1998. "The decline of welfare benefits in the U.S.: the role of wage inequality," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(3), pages 421-452, June.
    9. Katherine Baicker, 2001. "Extensive or Intensive Generosity? The Price and Income Effects of Federal Grants," NBER Working Papers 8384, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Craig, Steven G. & Howard, Larry L., 2014. "Is Medicaid crowding out other state government expenditure? Internal financing and cross-program substitution," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(C), pages 164-178.
    11. Jordi Jofre-Monseny & Pilar Sorribas-Navarro & Javier Vázquez-Grenno, 2016. "Immigration and local spending in social services: evidence from a massive immigration wave," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 23(6), pages 1004-1029, December.
    12. Marton, James & Wildasin, David E., 2007. "State government cash and in-kind benefits: Intergovernmental fiscal transfers and cross-program substitution," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(1), pages 1-20, January.
    13. Stichnoth, Holger & van der Straeten, Karine, 2009. "Ethnic diversity and attitudes towards redistribution: a review of the literature," ZEW Discussion Papers 09-036, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
    14. Lucy Kok & Caren Tempelman & Pierre Koning & Lennart Kroon & Caroline Berden, 2017. "Do Incentives for Municipalities Reduce the Welfare Caseload? Evaluation of a Welfare Reform in the Netherlands," De Economist, Springer, vol. 165(1), pages 23-42, March.
    15. Vallés-Giménez, Jaime & Zárate-Marco, Anabel, 2017. "Fungibility and bandwagon effects of capital transfers in a federal context," Economics Discussion Papers 2017-46, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).
    16. Toolsema-Veldman, Linda & Allers, M.A., 2012. "Welfare financing," Research Report 12004-EEF, University of Groningen, Research Institute SOM (Systems, Organisations and Management).
    17. Fiva, Jon H. & Rattso, Jorn, 2006. "Welfare competition in Norway: Norms and expenditures," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 202-222, March.
    18. Howard Chernick, 1999. "State Fiscal Substitution Between the Federal Food Stamp Program and AFDC, Medicaid, and SSI," JCPR Working Papers 123, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs

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