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Child Poverty, the Great Recession, and the Social Safety Net in the United States

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  • Marianne Bitler
  • Hilary Hoynes
  • Elira Kuka

Abstract

In this paper, we comprehensively examine the effects of the Great Recession on child poverty, with particular attention to the role of the social safety net in mitigating the adverse effects of shocks to earnings and income. Using a state panel data model and data for 2000 to 2014, we estimate the relationship between the business cycle and child poverty, and we examine how and to what extent the safety net is providing protection to at‐risk children. We find compelling evidence that the safety net provides protection; that is, the cyclicality of after‐tax‐and‐transfer child poverty is significantly attenuated relative to the cyclicality of private income poverty. We also find that the protective effect of the safety net is not similar across demographic groups, and that children from more disadvantaged backgrounds, such as those living with Hispanic or single heads, or particularly those living with immigrant household heads—or immigrant spouses—experience larger poverty cyclicality than those living with non‐Hispanic white or married heads, or those living with native household heads with native spouses. Our findings hold across a host of choices for how to define poverty. These include measures based on absolute thresholds or more relative thresholds. They also hold for measures of resources that include not only cash and near‐cash transfers net of taxes but also several measures of the value of public medical benefits.

Suggested Citation

  • Marianne Bitler & Hilary Hoynes & Elira Kuka, 2017. "Child Poverty, the Great Recession, and the Social Safety Net in the United States," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 36(2), pages 358-389, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:jpamgt:v:36:y:2017:i:2:p:358-389
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1002/pam.21963
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Florian Buhlmann & Benjamin Elsner & Andreas Peichl, 2018. "Tax refunds and income manipulation: evidence from the EITC," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 25(6), pages 1490-1518, December.
    2. Mahé, Clotilde, 2017. "Does publicly provided health care affect migration? Evidence from Mexico," MERIT Working Papers 049, United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
    3. Dan Brown & Elisabetta De Cao, 2017. "The Impact of Unemployment on Child Maltreatment in the United States," Working Papers 106, "Carlo F. Dondena" Centre for Research on Social Dynamics (DONDENA), Università Commerciale Luigi Bocconi.
    4. Brian Sykes & Amanda Geller, 2017. "Mass Incarceration and the Underground Economy in America," Working Papers wp17-03-ff, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Center for Research on Child Wellbeing..
    5. Elisabetta De Cao, 2017. "The Impact of Unemployment on Child Maltreatment in the United States," Economics Series Working Papers 837, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
    6. repec:spr:ijphth:v:63:y:2018:i:8:d:10.1007_s00038-018-1080-z is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I3 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty
    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply

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