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Cultural Transmission of Work-Welfare Attitudes and the Intergenerational Correlation in Welfare Receipt

  • Juan D. Baron
  • Deborah A. Cobb-Clark
  • Nisvan Erkal

This paper considers the potential for the cultural transmission of attitudes toward work, welfare, and individual responsibility to explain the intergenerational correlation in welfare receipt. Specifically, we investigate whether 18-year olds’ views about social benefits and the drivers of social inequality depend on their families’ welfare histories. We begin by incorporating welfare receipt into a theoretical model of the cultural transmission of work-welfare attitudes across generations. Consistent with the predictions of our model, we find that young people’s attitudes towards work and welfare are shaped by socialization within their families. Young people are more likely to oppose generous social benefits and adopt an internal view of social inequality if their mothers support these views, if their mothers were employed while they were growing up, and if their families never received welfare. These results are consistent with —though do not definitively establish— the existence of an intergenerational welfare culture.

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Paper provided by The University of Melbourne in its series Department of Economics - Working Papers Series with number 1059.

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Length: 40 pages
Date of creation: 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:mlb:wpaper:1059
Contact details of provider: Postal: Department of Economics, The University of Melbourne, 4th Floor, FBE Building, Level 4, 111 Barry Street. Victoria, 3010, Australia
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Web page: http://www.economics.unimelb.edu.au
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  1. Gottschalk, Peter, 1990. "AFDC Participation across Generations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(2), pages 367-71, May.
  2. Levine, Phillip B. & Zimmerman, David J., 2005. "Children's welfare exposure and subsequent development," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(1), pages 31-56, January.
  3. Samuel Bowles, 1998. "Endogenous Preferences: The Cultural Consequences of Markets and Other Economic Institutions," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(1), pages 75-111, March.
  4. Dohmen, Thomas & Falk, Armin & Huffman, David B. & Sunde, Uwe, 2006. "The Intergenerational Transmission of Risk and Trust Attitudes," IZA Discussion Papers 2380, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  5. James J. Heckman & Jora Stixrud & Sergio Urzua, 2006. "The Effects of Cognitive and Noncognitive Abilities on Labor Market Outcomes and Social Behavior," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(3), pages 411-482, July.
  6. George J. Borjas & Glenn T. Sueyoshi, 1997. "Ethnicity and the Intergenerational Transmission of Welfare Dependency," NBER Working Papers 6175, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Maurin, Eric, 2002. "The impact of parental income on early schooling transitions: A re-examination using data over three generations," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 85(3), pages 301-332, September.
  8. Mark Evan Edwards & Robert Plotnick & Marieka Klawitter, 2001. "Do Attitudes and Personality Characteristics Affect Socioeconomic Outcomes? The Case of Welfare Use by Young Women," Social Science Quarterly, Southwestern Social Science Association, vol. 82(4), pages 817-843.
  9. Moffitt, Robert, 1992. "Incentive Effects of the U.S. Welfare System: A Review," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 30(1), pages 1-61, March.
  10. Barón, Juan D. & Breunig, Robert & Cobb-Clark, Deborah A. & Gorgens, Tue & Sartbayeva, Anastasia, 2008. "Does the Effect of Incentive Payments on Survey Response Rates Differ by Income Support History?," IZA Discussion Papers 3473, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  11. Gottschalk, Peter, 1996. "Is the correlation in welfare participation across generations spurious?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(1), pages 1-25, December.
  12. Peter Gottschalk, 2005. "Can work alter welfare recipients' beliefs?," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 24(3), pages 485-498.
  13. John V. Pepper, 2000. "The Intergenerational Transmission Of Welfare Receipt: A Nonparametric Bounds Analysis," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 82(3), pages 472-488, August.
  14. Nicolas Beaulieu & Jean-Yves Duclos & Bernard Fortin & Manon Rouleau, 2005. "Intergenerational reliance on social assistance: Evidence from Canada," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 18(3), pages 539-562, 09.
  15. Antel, John J, 1992. "The Intergenerational Transfer of Welfare Dependency: Some Statistical Evidence," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 74(3), pages 467-73, August.
  16. Peter Gottschalk, 1992. "The intergenerational transmission of welfare participation: Facts and possible causes," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 11(2), pages 254-272.
  17. John M. Barron & Mark C. Berger & Dan A. Black, 2006. "Selective Counteroffers," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(3), pages 385-410, July.
  18. Patacchini, Eleonora & Zenou, Yves, 2007. "The Racial Test Score Gap and Parental Involvement in Britain," IZA Discussion Papers 2613, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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