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Effects of Maternal Work Incentives on Adolescent Social Behaviors

Author

Listed:
  • Dave, Dhaval M.

    () (Bentley University)

  • Corman, Hope

    () (Rider University)

  • Kalil, Ariel

    () (University of Chicago)

  • Schwartz-Soicher, Ofira

    () (Princeton University)

  • Reichman, Nancy E.

    (Rutgers University)

Abstract

This study investigates the effects of welfare reform in the U.S. in the 1990s, which dramatically limited cash assistance for low-income families, on the next generation as they transition to adulthood. We estimate effects by gender and focus on behaviors that are important for socioeconomic and health trajectories and represent early observable consequences of the reforms for the next generation. Using two nationally-representative datasets, we exploit differences in welfare reform implementation across states and over time in a difference-in-difference-in-differences framework to identify plausibly causal effects of welfare reform on a range of prosocial and antisocial behaviors (volunteering, participating in clubs/teams/activities, skipping school, getting into fights, damaging property, stealing, hurting others, smoking, using alcohol, using marijuana, using other illicit drugs). We explore maternal employment, supervision, and child's employment when not in school as potential mediators. We find that: (1) Welfare reform had no favorable effects on any of the youth behaviors examined. (2) Welfare reform led to a decrease in volunteering among girls. (3) Welfare reform led to increases in skipping school, damaging property, and getting into fights among boys. (4) Welfare reform led to increases in smoking and drug use among both boys and girls, with generally larger effects for boys (e.g., approximately 6% for boys compared to 4% for girls for any substance use). (5) The mediators we are able to consider explain little of the observed effects of welfare reform. Overall, the results from this study suggest that the intergenerational effects of welfare reform on adolescent behaviors were unfavorable, particularly for boys, and do not support longstanding arguments that incentivizing maternal employment by limiting cash assistance leads to responsible behavior in the next generation. As such, the social gains of welfare reform for women found in previous studies may have come at a cost to the next generation, particularly to boys who have been falling behind girls in terms of high school completion for decades.

Suggested Citation

  • Dave, Dhaval M. & Corman, Hope & Kalil, Ariel & Schwartz-Soicher, Ofira & Reichman, Nancy E., 2019. "Effects of Maternal Work Incentives on Adolescent Social Behaviors," IZA Discussion Papers 12208, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp12208
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Corman, Hope & Dave, Dhaval M. & Reichman, Nancy E., 2014. "Effects of welfare reform on women's crime," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(C), pages 1-14.
    2. Heather Koball, 2007. "Living Arrangements and School Dropout Among Minor Mothers Following Welfare Reform," Social Science Quarterly, Southwestern Social Science Association, vol. 88(5), pages 1374-1391, December.
    3. Richard J. Murnane, 2013. "U.S. High School Graduation Rates: Patterns and Explanations," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 51(2), pages 370-422, June.
    4. Marianne Bertrand & Jessica Pan, 2013. "The Trouble with Boys: Social Influences and the Gender Gap in Disruptive Behavior," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 5(1), pages 32-64, January.
    5. Hope Corman & Dhaval Dave & Nancy E. Reichman, 2017. "Effects Of Welfare Reform On Women'S Voting Participation," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 55(3), pages 1430-1451, July.
    6. Robert Moffitt, 2015. "The Deserving Poor, the Family, and the U.S. Welfare System," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 52(3), pages 729-749, June.
    7. Steven D. Levitt & Lance Lochner, 2001. "The Determinants of Juvenile Crime," NBER Chapters,in: Risky Behavior among Youths: An Economic Analysis, pages 327-374 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Jeffrey R. Kling & Jens Ludwig & Lawrence F. Katz, 2005. "Neighborhood Effects on Crime for Female and Male Youth: Evidence from a Randomized Housing Voucher Experiment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 120(1), pages 87-130.
    9. Randall K. Q. Akee & William E. Copeland & Gordon Keeler & Adrian Angold & E. Jane Costello, 2010. "Parents' Incomes and Children's Outcomes: A Quasi-experiment Using Transfer Payments from Casino Profits," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(1), pages 86-115, January.
    10. Marianne P. Bitler & Hilary W. Hoynes, 2010. "The State of Social Safety Net in the Post-Welfare Reform Era," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 41(2 (Fall)), pages 71-147.
    11. Paul Offner, 2005. "Welfare Reform and Teenage Girls," Social Science Quarterly, Southwestern Social Science Association, vol. 86(2), pages 306-322, June.
    12. Robert Kaestner & Sanders Korenman & June O'Neill, 2003. "Has welfare reform changed teenage behaviors?," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 22(2), pages 225-248.
    13. Hope Corman & Dhaval M. Dave & Dhiman Das & Nancy E. Reichman, 2013. "Effects Of Welfare Reform On Illicit Drug Use Of Adult Women," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 51(1), pages 653-674, January.
    14. Aizer, Anna, 2004. "Home alone: supervision after school and child behavior," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(9-10), pages 1835-1848, August.
    15. repec:mpr:mprres:5764 is not listed on IDEAS
    16. Marianne P. Bitler & Jonah B. Gelbach & Hilary W. Hoynes, 2006. "Welfare Reform and Children's Living Arrangements," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 41(1).
    17. Sarah Abraham & Liyang Sun, 2018. "Estimating Dynamic Treatment Effects in Event Studies with Heterogeneous Treatment Effects," Papers 1804.05785, arXiv.org.
    18. 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.
    19. Hartley, Robert Paul & Lamarche, Carlos & Ziliak, James P., 2017. "Welfare Reform and the Intergenerational Transmission of Dependence," IZA Discussion Papers 10942, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    20. Robert Kaestner & Elizabeth Tarlov, 2006. "Changes in the welfare caseload and the health of low-educated mothers," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 25(3), pages 623-643.
    21. Amalia R. Miller & Lei Zhang, 2012. "Intergenerational Effects of Welfare Reform on Educational Attainment," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 55(2), pages 437-476.
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    Cited by:

    1. Daniel Graeber & Daniel D. Schnitzlein, 2019. "The Effect of Maternal Education on Offspring's Mental Health," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 1028, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    welfare reform; maternal work; substance use; violence; school; intergenerational; adolescents; risky behaviors;

    JEL classification:

    • H53 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Government Expenditures and Welfare Programs
    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being
    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs

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