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Welfare reforms, family resources, and child maltreatment

Author

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  • Christina Paxson

    (Princeton University)

  • Jane Waldfogel

    (School of Social Work, Columbia University)

Abstract

This paper examines the impact of welfare reforms on several measures of child maltreatment. The authors use state-level data from 1990 to 1998 to examine whether recent welfare reforms have increased or reduced the incidence of reported and substantiated cases of maltreatment, the incidence of specific types of substantiated maltreatment-physical abuse and neglect-and the number of children living in out-of-home care. The welfare reforms considered are the imposition of: family caps, lifetime limits, work requirements, sanctions for non-compliance, and the restriction of welfare benefits to immigrants. How welfare benefit levels and changes in state Earned Income Tax Credit programs affect reports and substantiated cases of maltreatment are also considered. Evidence strongly indicates that reductions in states' welfare benefit levels increase the number of children in out-of-home care, and some evidence indicates that strict lifetime welfare limits and tougher sanctions for noncompliance are related to higher levels of substantiated maltreatment. The evidence on family caps is mixed: family caps appear to be associated with fewer instances of substantiated maltreatment, but more children in out-of-home care. Because most of the welfare reforms examined have been in effect for only a short time, these results should be considered preliminary. Overall, however, they provide some evidence that the recent welfare reforms in the United States may have increased child maltreatment. © 2003 by the Association for Public Policy and Analysis and Management.

Suggested Citation

  • Christina Paxson & Jane Waldfogel, 2003. "Welfare reforms, family resources, and child maltreatment," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 22(1), pages 85-113.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:jpamgt:v:22:y:2003:i:1:p:85-113
    DOI: 10.1002/pam.10097
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Christina Paxson & Jane Waldfogel, 2002. "Work, Welfare, and Child Maltreatment," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 20(3), pages 435-474, July.
    2. Kristen Shook Slack, 1999. "Does the Loss of Welfare Income Increase the Risk of Involvement with the Child Welfare System?," JCPR Working Papers 65, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
    3. Shook, Kristen, 1999. "Does the loss of welfare income increase the risk of involvement with the child welfare system?," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 21(9-10), pages 781-814.
    4. Needell, Barbara & Cuccaro-Alamin, Stephanie & Brookhart, Alan & Lee, Seon, 1999. "Transitions from AFDC to child welfare in California," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 21(9-10), pages 815-841.
    5. Deaton, Angus, 1985. "Panel data from time series of cross-sections," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 30(1-2), pages 109-126.
    6. Ann E. Horvath-Rose & H. Elizabeth Peters, 2000. "Welfare Waivers and Non-Marital Childbearing," JCPR Working Papers 128, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
    7. Rebecca M. Blank, 1999. "What Goes Up Must Come Down? Explaining Recent Changes in Public Assistance Caseloads," JCPR Working Papers 78, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
    8. Waldfogel, Jane, 2000. "Child welfare research: How adequate are the data?," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 22(9-10), pages 705-741.
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