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Do Welfare Asset Limits Affect Household Saving? Evidence from Welfare Reform

  • Erik Hurst
  • James P. Ziliak

In this paper, we use household-level data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics to examine the impact of new saving incentives that were implemented as part of the overhaul of U.S. welfare policy during the mid-1990s on the saving of households at risk of entering welfare. The Temporary Assistance to Needy Families program devolved responsibility of program rules to the states, and many states have responded by relaxing liquid asset and vehicle-equity limits that determine program eligibility, and by introducing time limits on benefit receipt. According to the recent theoretical work and statements made by public officials, such policies are predicted to increase total savings for those households who have a large ex-ante probability of welfare receipt such as female-headed households with children. We follow a sample of female heads with children from 1994 to 2001 and find that in both absolute terms, and relative to comparison groups of male heads and female heads without children, there has been no impact of welfare policy changes on the saving of at-risk households.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 10487.

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Date of creation: May 2004
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Publication status: published as Hurst, Erik and James P. Ziliak. "Do Welfare Asset Limits Affect Household Saving?," Journal of Human Resources, 2006, v41(1,Winter), 46-71.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:10487
Note: EFG AG PE
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  1. Bruce D. Meyer & Dan T. Rosenbaum, 2001. "Welfare, The Earned Income Tax Credit, And The Labor Supply Of Single Mothers," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 116(3), pages 1063-1114, August.
  2. Glenn R. Hubbard & Jonathan Skinner & Stephen P. Zeldes, . "Precautionary Saving and Social Insurance," Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research Working Papers 03-95, Wharton School Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research.
  3. Richard T. Curtin & Thomas Juster & James N. Morgan, 1989. "Survey Estimates of Wealth: An Assessment of Quality," NBER Chapters, in: The Measurement of Saving, Investment, and Wealth, pages 473-552 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Kerwin Kofi Charles & Erik Hurst, 2002. "The Transition To Home Ownership And The Black-White Wealth Gap," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 84(2), pages 281-297, May.
  5. Blundell, Richard & Macurdy, Thomas, 1999. "Labor supply: A review of alternative approaches," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 27, pages 1559-1695 Elsevier.
  6. J. P. Ziliak, . "Income Transfers and Assets of the Poor," Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Papers 1202-99, University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty.
  7. Danziger, Sheldon & Haveman, Robert & Plotnick, Robert, 1981. "How Income Transfer Programs Affect Work, Savings, and the Income Distribution: A Critical Review," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 19(3), pages 975-1028, September.
  8. Erik Hurst & Ming Ching Luoh & Frank P. Stafford, 1998. "The Wealth Dynamics of American Families, 1984-94," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 29(1), pages 267-338.
  9. Laibson, David I., 1997. "Golden Eggs and Hyperbolic Discounting," Scholarly Articles 4481499, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  10. Andrew A. Samwick, 1997. "Discount Rate Heterogeneity and Social Security Reform," NBER Working Papers 6219, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. David Neumark & Elizabeth Powers, 1997. "The Effect of Means-Tested Income Support for the Elderly on Pre-Retirement Saving: Evidence from the SSI Program in the U.S," NBER Working Papers 6303, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. N/A, 2001. "Evaluating Welfare Reform in an Era of Transition," Mathematica Policy Research Reports 1152fe95ccc24842917ed5e46, Mathematica Policy Research.
  13. Jonathan Gruber & Aaron Yelowitz, 1999. "Public Health Insurance and Private Savings," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(6), pages 1249-1274, December.
  14. Erik Hurst & James P. Ziliak, 2001. "Welfare Reform and Household Saving," JCPR Working Papers 234, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
  15. F. Thomas Juster & James P. Smith & Frank Stafford, 2004. "The Measurement and Structure of Household Wealth," Labor and Demography 0402009, EconWPA.
  16. John L. Czajka & Jonathan E. Jacobson & Scott Cody, 2003. "Survey Estimates of Wealth A Comparative Analysis and Review of the Survey of Income and Program Participation," Mathematica Policy Research Reports 88337e2efc2c423dab80b5d00, Mathematica Policy Research.
  17. George-Marios Angeletos, 2001. "The Hyberbolic Consumption Model: Calibration, Simulation, and Empirical Evaluation," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 15(3), pages 47-68, Summer.
  18. Powers, Elizabeth T., 1998. "Does means-testing welfare discourage saving? evidence from a change in AFDC policy in the United States," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 33-53, April.
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