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The Effect of Welfare Payments on the Marriage and Fertility Behavior of Unwed Mothers: Results from a Twins Experiment

  • Jeff Grogger
  • Stephen G. Bronars

We study the relationship between welfare benefits and the time to first marriage and time to next birth among initially unwed mothers. We use twin births to generate random within-state variation in benefits, effectively controlling for unobservables that may confound the relationship between welfare payments and behavior. Higher base welfare benefits (1) lead unwed white mothers to forestall their eventual marriage and (2) lead unwed black mothers to hasten their next birth. The magnitudes of these effects are fairly modest. Moreover, we find no evidence that the marginal benefit paid at the birth of an additional childthe focus of the family cap debateaffects fertility.

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Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal Journal of Political Economy.

Volume (Year): 109 (2001)
Issue (Month): 3 (June)
Pages: 529-545

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Handle: RePEc:ucp:jpolec:v:109:y:2001:i:3:p:529-545
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/JPE/

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  1. H. W. Hoynes, . "Does welfare play any role in female headship decisions?," Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Papers 1078-95, University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty.
  2. Moffitt, Robert, 1992. "Incentive Effects of the U.S. Welfare System: A Review," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 30(1), pages 1-61, March.
  3. Robert Plotnick, 1983. "Turnover in the AFDC Population: An Event History Analysis," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 18(1), pages 65-81.
  4. 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.
  5. Devine, Theresa J. & Kiefer, Nicolas M., 1991. "Empirical Labor Economics: The Search Approach," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195059366.
  6. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521412438 is not listed on IDEAS
  7. 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.
  8. Rosenzweig, Mark R & Wolpin, Kenneth I, 1980. "Life-Cycle Labor Supply and Fertility: Causal Inferences from Household Models," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 88(2), pages 328-48, April.
  9. Bronars, Stephen G & Grogger, Jeff, 1994. "The Economic Consequences of Unwed Motherhood: Using Twin Births as a Natural Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(5), pages 1141-56, December.
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