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Changes in the Welfare Caseload and the Health of Low-educated Mothers

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  • Robert Kaestner
  • Elizabeth Tarlov

Abstract

Declines in the welfare caseload in the late 1990s brought significant change to the lives of many low-educated, single mothers. Many single mothers left welfare and entered the labor market and others re-arranged their lives in order to avoid going on public assistance. These changes may have affected the health and health behaviors of these women. To date, there has been no study of this issue. In this paper, we obtained estimates of the association between the welfare caseload and welfare policies, and three health behaviors --smoking, drinking, and exercise and two self-reported measures of health --days in poor mental health, and overall health status. The results of our study reveal that changes in the caseload had little effect on measures of health status, but were significantly associated with two health behaviors: binge drinking and regular exercise. The fall in the welfare caseload was associated with a decrease in binge drinking and an increase in regular and sustained physical activity.

Suggested Citation

  • Robert Kaestner & Elizabeth Tarlov, 2003. "Changes in the Welfare Caseload and the Health of Low-educated Mothers," NBER Working Papers 10034, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:10034
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Steven J. Haider & Alison Jacknowitz & Robert F. Schoeni, 2002. "Welfare Work Requirements and Individual Well-being: Evidence from the Effects on Breastfeeding," Working Papers 02-01, RAND Corporation.
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    9. Marianne Bertrand & Esther Duflo & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2004. "How Much Should We Trust Differences-In-Differences Estimates?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 119(1), pages 249-275.
    10. James P. Smith, 1999. "Healthy Bodies and Thick Wallets: The Dual Relation between Health and Economic Status," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 13(2), pages 145-166, Spring.
    11. Greg Duncan & P. Lindsay Chase-Lansdale, 2001. "Welfare Reform and Child Well-being," JCPR Working Papers 217, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
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    Cited by:

    1. Marianne P. Bitler & Jonah B. Gelbach & Hilary W. Hoynes, 2005. "Welfare Reform and Health," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 40(2).
    2. 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.
    3. repec:pri:crcwel:wp06-04-ff is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Jean Knab & Sara McLanahan & Irv Garfinkel, 2007. "The Effects of Welfare and Child Support Policies on Maternal Health and Wellbeing," Working Papers 931, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Center for Research on Child Wellbeing..
    5. Marianne Bitler & Hilary W. Hoynes, 2006. "Welfare Reform and Indirect Impacts on Health," NBER Working Papers 12642, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Dave, Dhaval M. & Reichman, Nancy E. & Corman, Hope & Das, Dhiman, 2011. "Effects of welfare reform on vocational education and training," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(6), pages 1399-1415.
    7. Jagannathan, Radha & Camasso, Michael J. & Sambamoorthi, Usha, 2010. "Experimental evidence of welfare reform impact on clinical anxiety and depression levels among poor women," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 71(1), pages 152-160, July.
    8. Marianne P. Bitler & Jonah B. Gelbach & Hilary W. Hoynes, 2005. "Welfare Reform and Health," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 40(2).
    9. Dhaval Dave & Hope Corman & Nancy Reichman, 2012. "Effects of Welfare Reform on Education Acquisition of Adult Women," Journal of Labor Research, Springer, vol. 33(2), pages 251-282, June.
    10. 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.
    11. Ifcher John, 2011. "The Happiness of Single Mothers after Welfare Reform," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 11(1), pages 1-29, September.
    12. Narain, Kimberly & Bitler, Marianne & Ponce, Ninez & Kominski, Gerald & Ettner, Susan, 2017. "The impact of welfare reform on the health insurance coverage, utilization and health of low education single mothers," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 180(C), pages 28-35.
    13. Herbst, Chris M., 2014. "Are Parental Welfare Work Requirements Good for Disadvantaged Children? Evidence from Age-of-Youngest-Child Exemptions," IZA Discussion Papers 8485, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • I13 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Insurance, Public and Private

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