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The Impact of Unemployment on Child Maltreatment in the United States

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  • Dan Brown
  • Elisabetta De Cao

Abstract

In this paper, we show that unemployment increases child neglect in the United States during the period from 2004 to 2012. A one percentage point increase in the unemployment rate leads to a 20 percent increase in neglect. We identify this effect by instrumenting for the county-level unemployment rate with a Bartik instrument, which we create as the weighted average of the national-level unemployment rates across each of twenty industries, where the weights are the county-level fraction of the employed working-age population in each industry at the start of the sample period. An important mechanism behind this effect is that parents lack social and private safety nets. The effect on neglect is smaller in states that introduce longer extensions to unemployment benefits, and is greater in counties where an initially larger fraction of children are not covered by health insurance. We find no evidence that the effect is driven by alcohol consumption or divorce.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:don:donwpa:106
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    3. Borchert, Kathrin & Hirth, Matthias & Kummer, Michael E. & Laitenberger, Ulrich & Slivko, Olga & Viete, Steffen, 2018. "Unemployment and online labor," ZEW Discussion Papers 18-023, ZEW - Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    child abuse and neglect; unemployment rate; recession; safety net; unemployment insurance;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • I10 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - General
    • J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • J65 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Unemployment Insurance; Severance Pay; Plant Closings
    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law

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