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Lone Female Headship and Welfare Policy in Canada

The principal qualifying condition for welfare in Canada, unlike the US, is financial need - there are no demographic criteria. We use a time-series of annual, national cross-sections for the period 1981 through 1993 to estimate a model of lone-female headship. Our findings do not support the hypothesis that welfare benefit levels for one-parent and two-parent families are important determinants of the likelihood that a Canadian woman is a lone mother. In all models with provincial fixed effects, the coefficients for welfare benefits are small, statistically insignificant and often of the unexpected sign. We do find that the probability that a woman is a lone mother is generally associated in the expected fashion with her earnings capacity and the earnings capacity of her potential male partner, and with her age and schooling. La principale condition d'éligibilité à l'assistance sociale au Canada s'exprime en termes de besoins financiers plutôt que sur la base d'un critère démographique comme aux États-Unis. Nous utilisons une série de coupes transversales répétées sur les années 1981 à 1993 pour estimer un modèle expliquant le statut de famille monoparentale à chef féminin. Nos résultats ne supportent pas l'hypothèse que les niveaux d'assistance sociale pour les familles biparentales et monoparentales sont des déterminants importants de la probabilité qu'une Canadienne soit chef de famille monoparentale. Dans tous les modèles estimés avec des effects fixes provinciaux, les coefficients des variables de niveaux d'assistance sociale sont faibles, statistiquement non significatifs et souvent du mauvais signe. Nous trouvons cependant que la probabilité qu'une femme soit chef de famille monoparentale dépend, comme on peut s'y attendre, de son potentiel à gagner un revenu et de celui de son partenaire potentiel, de son âge et de son niveau d'éducation.

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Paper provided by CREFE, Université du Québec à Montréal in its series Cahiers de recherche CREFE / CREFE Working Papers with number 76.

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Length: 21 pages
Date of creation: Apr 1999
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cre:crefwp:76
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  1. Pierre Lefebvre & Philip Merrigan, 1997. "Social Assistance and Conjugal Union Dissolution in Canada: A Dynamic Analysis," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 30(1), pages 112-34, February.
  2. Allen, Douglas W, 1993. "Welfare and the Family: The Canadian Experience," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 11(1), pages S201-23, January.
  3. Gary S. Becker, 1981. "A Treatise on the Family," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number beck81-1, July.
  4. Martin D. Dooley, 1999. "The Evolution of Welfare Participation Among Canadian Lone Mothers From 1973-1991," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 32(3), pages 589-612, May.
  5. David Card & W. Craig Riddell, 1993. "A Comparative Analysis of Unemployment in Canada and the United States," NBER Chapters, in: Small Differences That Matter: Labor Markets and Income Maintenance in Canada and the United States, pages 149-190 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Williamson Hoyne, Hilary, 1997. "Does welfare play any role in female headship decisions?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(2), pages 89-117, August.
  7. Martin D. Dooley, 1994. "The Converging Market Work Patterns of Married Mothers and Lone Mothers in Canada," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 29(2), pages 600-620.
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