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Welfare Reform and Family Expenditures: How are Single Mothers Adapting to the New Welfare and Work Regime?

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  • Neeraj Kaushal
  • Qin Gao
  • Jane Waldfogel

Abstract

We study the effect of welfare reform, broadly defined to include social policy changes in the 1990s, on the material well-being and expenditure patterns of poor single-mother families. Our research suggests that welfare reform did not affect total expenditures in households headed by low-educated single mothers. However, patterns of expenditure did change. We find strong evidence that the policy was associated with an increase in spending on transportation and food away from home, and some evidence of an increase in spending on adult clothing and footwear. In contrast, we find no statistically significant changes in expenditures on childcare or learning and enrichment activities. This pattern of results suggests that welfare reform has shifted family expenditures towards items that facilitate work outside the home, but, at least so far, has not allowed families to catch up with more advantaged families in terms of their expenditures on learning and enrichment items.

Suggested Citation

  • Neeraj Kaushal & Qin Gao & Jane Waldfogel, 2006. "Welfare Reform and Family Expenditures: How are Single Mothers Adapting to the New Welfare and Work Regime?," NBER Working Papers 12624, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12624
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Bruce D. Meyer & James X. Sullivan, 2003. "Measuring the Well-Being of the Poor Using Income and Consumption," NBER Working Papers 9760, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. 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).
    3. Schoeni, R.F. & Blank, R.M., 2000. "What Has Welfare Reform Accomplished? Impacts on Welfare Participation, Employment, Income, Poverty, and Family Structure," Papers 00-02, RAND - Labor and Population Program.
    4. Rebecca M. Blank, 2002. "Evaluating Welfare Reform in the United States," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 40(4), pages 1105-1166, December.
    5. Schoeni, R.F. & Blank, R.M., 2000. "What Has Welfare Reform Accomplished? Impacts on Welfare Participation, Employment, Income, Poverty, and Family Structure," Papers 00-02, RAND - Labor and Population Program.
    6. Erich Battistin, 2002. "Errors in Survey Reports of Consumption Expenditures," 10th International Conference on Panel Data, Berlin, July 5-6, 2002 C4-2, International Conferences on Panel Data.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Kim, Jeounghee & Joo, Myungkook, 2011. "Did PRWORA's mandatory school attendance policy increase attendance among targeted teenage girls?," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 33(9), pages 1616-1623, September.
    2. Løken, Katrine V. & Lommerud, Kjell Erik & Reiso, Katrine Holm, 2014. "Single Mothers and their children: Evaluating a work-encouraging welfare reform," Working Papers in Economics 04/14, University of Bergen, Department of Economics.
    3. Waldfogel, Jane & Washbrook, Elizabeth, 2011. "Early years policy," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 43728, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    4. Krista Minnotte, 2012. "Family Structure, Gender, and the Work–Family Interface: Work-to-Family Conflict Among Single and Partnered Parents," Journal of Family and Economic Issues, Springer, vol. 33(1), pages 95-107, March.
    5. Gennetian, Lisa A. & Castells, Nina & Morris, Pamela A., 2010. "Meeting the basic needs of children: Does income matter?," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 32(9), pages 1138-1148, September.
    6. Martin, Megan & Caminada, Koen, 2009. "Welfare reform in the United States. A descriptive policy analysis," MPRA Paper 20139, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    7. Gao, Qin & Zhai, Fuhua & Garfinkel, Irwin, 2010. "How Does Public Assistance Affect Family Expenditures? The Case of Urban China," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 38(7), pages 989-1000, July.
    8. 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).
    9. Gao, Qin & Zhai, Fuhua & Yang, Sui & Li, Shi, 2014. "Does Welfare Enable Family Expenditures on Human Capital? Evidence from China," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 64(C), pages 219-231.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I3 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty
    • 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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