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Marriage, Labor Supply and the Dynamics of the Social Safety Net

Author

Listed:
  • Hamish Low
  • Costas Meghir
  • Luigi Pistaferri
  • Alessandra Voena

Abstract

The 1996 PRWORA reform introduced time limits on the receipt of welfare in the United States. We use variation by state and across demographic groups to provide reduced form evidence showing that such limits led to a fall in welfare claims (partly due to “banking” benefits for future use), a rise in employment, and a decline in divorce rates. We then specify and estimate a life-cycle model of marriage, labor supply and divorce under limited commitment to better understand the mechanisms behind these behavioral responses, carry out counterfactual analysis with longer run impacts and evaluate the welfare effects of the program. Based on the model, which reproduces the reduced form estimates, we show that among low educated women, instead of relying on TANF, single mothers work more, more mothers remain married, some move to relying only on food stamps and, in ex-ante welfare terms, women are worse off.

Suggested Citation

  • Hamish Low & Costas Meghir & Luigi Pistaferri & Alessandra Voena, 2018. "Marriage, Labor Supply and the Dynamics of the Social Safety Net," NBER Working Papers 24356, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:24356
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Richard Blundell & Alan Duncan & Costas Meghir, 1998. "Estimating Labor Supply Responses Using Tax Reforms," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 66(4), pages 827-862, July.
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    3. Richard Blundell & Monica Costa Dias & Costas Meghir & Jonathan Shaw, 2016. "Female Labor Supply, Human Capital, and Welfare Reform," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 84, pages 1705-1753, September.
    4. Marc K. Chan, 2013. "A Dynamic Model of Welfare Reform," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 81(3), pages 941-1001, May.
    5. Ethan Ligon & Jonathan P. Thomas & Tim Worrall, 2000. "Mutual Insurance, Individual Savings and Limited Commitment," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 3(2), pages 216-246, April.
    6. Ethan Ligon & Jonathan P. Thomas & Tim Worrall, 2002. "Informal Insurance Arrangements with Limited Commitment: Theory and Evidence from Village Economies," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 69(1), pages 209-244.
    7. Michael P. Keane & Kenneth I. Wolpin, 2010. "The Role Of Labor And Marriage Markets, Preference Heterogeneity, And The Welfare System In The Life Cycle Decisions Of Black, Hispanic, And White Women," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 51(3), pages 851-892, August.
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    Cited by:

    1. Nishant Yonzan & Laxman Timilsina & Inas Rashad Kelly, 2020. "Economic Incentives Surrounding Fertility: Evidence from Alaska's Permanent Fund Dividend," NBER Working Papers 26712, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Naoki Aizawa & Chao Fu, 2020. "Interaction of the Labor Market and the Health Insurance System: Employer-Sponsored, Individual, and Public Insurance," NBER Working Papers 26713, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Andrew Shephard, 2019. "Marriage market dynamics, gender, and the age gap," PIER Working Paper Archive 19-003, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania.
    4. Minsu Chang, 2019. "A House Without a Ring: The Role of Changing Marital Transitions for Housing Decisions," 2019 Meeting Papers 514, Society for Economic Dynamics.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H2 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue
    • H31 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - Household
    • H53 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Government Expenditures and Welfare Programs
    • J08 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General - - - Labor Economics Policies
    • J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure
    • J18 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Public Policy
    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply

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