IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Family Welfare Cultures

  • Gordon B. Dahl
  • Andreas Ravndal Kostol
  • Magne Mogstad

Strong intergenerational correlations in various types of welfare use have fueled a long-standing debate over whether welfare receipt in one generation causes welfare participation in the next generation. Some claim a causal relationship in welfare receipt across generations has created a culture in which welfare use reinforces itself through the family. Others argue the determinants of poverty or poor health are correlated across generations, so that children's welfare participation is associated with, but not caused by, parental welfare receipt. However, there is little empirical evidence to sort out these claims. In this paper, we investigate the existence and importance of family welfare cultures in the context of Norway's disability insurance (DI) system. To overcome the challenge of correlated unobservables across generations, we take advantage of random assignment of judges to DI applicants whose cases are initially denied. Some appeal judges are systematically more lenient, which leads to random variation in the probability a parent will be allowed DI. Using this exogenous variation, we find strong evidence that welfare receipt in one generation causes welfare participation in the next generation: when a parent is allowed DI, their adult child's participation over the next five years increases by 6 percentage points. This effect grows over time, rising to 12 percentage points after ten years. While these findings are specific to our setting, they serve to highlight that welfare reforms can have long-lasting effects on program participation, since any original effect on the current generation could be reinforced by changing the participation behavior of their children as well. The detailed nature of our data allows us to compare the intergenerational transmission with spillover effects in other networks and to explore mechanisms. Our findings point to a special link between parents and their children, with little impact due to close neighbors' DI participation. We find suggestive evidence that what may change as a result of a parent being allowed DI is their children's beliefs about the efficacy of trying to get on to the DI program or their attitudes about DI participation and its stigma.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: Access to the full text is generally limited to series subscribers, however if the top level domain of the client browser is in a developing country or transition economy free access is provided. More information about subscriptions and free access is available at Free access is also available to older working papers.

As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 19237.

in new window

Date of creation: Jul 2013
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Gordon B. Dahl & Andreas Ravndal Kostøl & Magne Mogstad, 2014. "Family Welfare Cultures," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 129(4), pages 1711-1752.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19237
Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
Phone: 617-868-3900
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Jeffrey R. Kling, 2004. "Incarceration Length, Employment, and Earnings," Working Papers 873, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  2. Sandra E. Black & Paul J. Devereux, 2010. "Recent developments in intergenerational mobility," Working Papers 201010, School of Economics, University College Dublin.
  3. Delia Furtado & Nikolaos Theodoropoulos, 2012. "Immigrant Networks and the Take-Up of Disability Programs: Evidence from U.S. Census Data," Working Papers, Center for Retirement Research at Boston College wp2012-23, Center for Retirement Research, revised Oct 2012.
  4. Nicole Maestas & Kathleen J. Mullen & Alexander Strand, 2013. "Does Disability Insurance Receipt Discourage Work? Using Examiner Assignment to Estimate Causal Effects of SSDI Receipt," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(5), pages 1797-1829, August.
  5. David H. Autor & Nicole Maestas & Kathleen J. Mullen & Alexander Strand, 2015. "Does Delay Cause Decay? The Effect of Administrative Decision Time on the Labor Force Participation and Earnings of Disability Applicants," NBER Working Papers 20840, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Bratberg, E., 1999. "Disability Retirement in a Welfare State," Norway; Department of Economics, University of Bergen 190, Department of Economics, University of Bergen.
  7. Lex Borghans & Anne C. Gielen & Erzo F. P. Luttmer, 2014. "Social Support Substitution and the Earnings Rebound: Evidence from a Regression Discontinuity in Disability Insurance Reform," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 6(4), pages 34-70, November.
  8. Parsons, Donald O, 1991. "The Health and Earnings of Rejected Disability Insurance Applicants: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(5), pages 1419-26, December.
  9. 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.
  10. Kostol, Andreas Ravndal & Mogstad, Magne, 2012. "How Financial Incentives Induce Disability Insurance Recipients to Return to Work," IZA Discussion Papers 6702, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  11. Gordon B. Dahl & Katrine Vellesen Loken & Magne Mogstad, 2013. "Peer Effects in Program Participation," CESifo Working Paper Series 4349, CESifo Group Munich.
  12. Campolieti, Michele & Riddell, Chris, 2012. "Disability policy and the labor market: Evidence from a natural experiment in Canada, 1998–2006," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(3), pages 306-316.
  13. Anders Björklund & Mikael Lindahl & Erik Plug, 2006. "The Origins of Intergenerational Associations: Lessons from Swedish Adoption Data," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 121(3), pages 999-1028, 08.
  14. Jonathan Gruber, 2000. "Disability Insurance Benefits and Labor Supply," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(6), pages 1162-1183, December.
  15. Marianne Bertrand & Erzo F. P. Luttmer & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2000. "Network Effects And Welfare Cultures," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 115(3), pages 1019-1055, August.
  16. Peter Gottschalk, 1993. "Is The Correlation In Welfare Participation Across Generations Spurious?," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 224, Boston College Department of Economics.
  17. David H. Autor, 2011. "The Unsustainable Rise of the Disability Rolls in the United States: Causes, Consequences, and Policy Options," NBER Working Papers 17697, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. Richard V. Burkhauser & Mary C. Daly, 2012. "Social Security Disability Insurance: Time For Fundamental Change," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 31(2), pages 454-461, 03.
  19. Abadie, Alberto, 2003. "Semiparametric instrumental variable estimation of treatment response models," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 113(2), pages 231-263, April.
  20. Till von Wachter & Jae Song & Joyce Manchester, 2011. "Trends in Employment and Earnings of Allowed and Rejected Applicants to the Social Security Disability Insurance Program," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(7), pages 3308-29, December.
  21. 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.
  22. Bhashkar Mazumder, 2005. "Fortunate Sons: New Estimates of Intergenerational Mobility in the United States Using Social Security Earnings Data," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 87(2), pages 235-255, May.
  23. Timothy J. Moore, 2014. "The Employment Effect of Terminating Disability Benefits," NBER Working Papers 19793, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  24. Mari Rege & Kjetil Telle & Mark Votruba, 2009. "The Effect of Plant Downsizing on Disability Pension Utilization," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 7(4), pages 754-785, 06.
  25. 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.
  26. Gary Solon & Mary Corcoran & Roger H. Gordon & Deborah Laren, 1987. "Sibling and Intergenerational Correlations in Welfare Program Participation," NBER Working Papers 2334, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  27. Joseph J. Doyle Jr., 2007. "Child Protection and Child Outcomes: Measuring the Effects of Foster Care," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(5), pages 1583-1610, December.
  28. Will Dobbie & Jae Song, 2015. "Debt Relief and Debtor Outcomes: Measuring the Effects of Consumer Bankruptcy Protection," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(3), pages 1272-1311, March.
  29. Imbens, Guido W & Rubin, Donald B, 1997. "Estimating Outcome Distributions for Compliers in Instrumental Variables Models," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 64(4), pages 555-74, October.
  30. Anna Aizer & Joseph J. Doyle, Jr., 2013. "Juvenile Incarceration, Human Capital and Future Crime: Evidence from Randomly-Assigned Judges," NBER Working Papers 19102, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  31. Arthur van Soest & Tatiana Andreyeva & Arie Kapteyn & James P. Smith, 2011. "Self-Reported Disability and Reference Groups," NBER Chapters, in: Investigations in the Economics of Aging, pages 237-264 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  32. Dan Black & Kermit Daniel & Seth Sanders, 2002. "The Impact of Economic Conditions on Participation in Disability Programs: Evidence from the Coal Boom and Bust," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(1), pages 27-50, March.
  33. Michele Campolieti, 2004. "Disability Insurance Benefits and Labor Supply: Some Additional Evidence," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 22(4), pages 863-890, October.
  34. David H. Autor & Mark G. Duggan, 2003. "The Rise In The Disability Rolls And The Decline In Unemployment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 118(1), pages 157-205, February.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19237. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ()

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.