The Impact of Welfare on Young Mothers' Subsequent Childbearing Decisions
Politicians, the press, and the public have become increasingly worried about welfare becoming a "lifestyle" in which women have multiple births both to increase their incomes and to prolong their stays on the welfare roles. Such concerns have given rise to policy proposals such as the "family cap" which would deny welfare recipients higher welfare payments if they have another child while on welfare. This paper examines the relationship between welfare and births to women who already have a child, using data on young mothers from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY). I find that variations in welfare benefit levels and the incremental benefit have no statistically significant impacts on the subsequent childbearing decisions of young mothers in general, nor on the subsequent childbearing decisions of women who received welfare in particular. Furthermore, mothers who received welfare to support their first children are no more likely to have additional children in any given year through the age of 23.
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