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Work, Welfare, and Child Maltreatment

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  • Christina Paxson
  • Jane Waldfogel

Abstract

This paper examines how child maltreatment is affected by the economic circumstances of parents. 'Child maltreatment' encompasses a wide range of behaviors that adversely affect children. It includes neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse, and other forms of abuse or neglect. Using state-level panel data on the numbers of reports and substantiated cases of maltreatment, we examine whether socioeconomic factors play different roles for these different types of maltreatment. A key finding is that the economic circumstances of parents matter: increases in the fractions of children with absent fathers and working mothers are related to increases in many of the measures of maltreatment, as are increases in the share of families with two non-working parents, and those with incomes below 75 percent of the poverty line. We also examine the links between family structure, welfare benefits, and child maltreatment. Welfare programs affect the incentives of women and men to work and to live in single or dual-parent families. By changing the family structure and work behavior of parents as well as their incomes, welfare reforms can be expected to affect the incidence of child maltreatment. Although is too early to accurately determine what the effects of the recent reforms will be, our analysis indicates that: 1) consistent with other research, the characteristics of state's welfare systems have affected the work behavior and structure of families during the 1977-1996 time period; 2) decreases in a state's welfare benefit levels are associated with large increases in child neglect, and with small decreases in physical abuse.

Suggested Citation

  • Christina Paxson & Jane Waldfogel, 1999. "Work, Welfare, and Child Maltreatment," NBER Working Papers 7343, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:7343 Note: CH
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Deaton, Angus, 1985. "Panel data from time series of cross-sections," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 30(1-2), pages 109-126.
    2. J. P. Ziliak & D. N. Figlio & E. E. Davis & L. S. Connolly, "undated". "Accounting for the Decline in AFDC Caseloads: Welfare Reform or Economic Growth?," Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Papers 1151-97, University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty.
    3. Christopher J. Ruhm, 2000. "Are Recessions Good for Your Health?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(2), pages 617-650.
    4. Goldsmith, Arthur H. & Veum, Jonathan R. & Darity, William Jr., 1996. "The psychological impact of unemployment and joblessness," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 25(3), pages 333-358.
    5. Jane Waldfogel & Christina Paxson, 1999. "Parental Resources and Child Abuse and Neglect," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(2), pages 239-244, May.
    6. repec:aph:ajpbhl:10.2105/ajph.75.1.56_0 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. R. A. Moffitt, "undated". "The Effect of Welfare on Marriage and Fertility: What Do We Know and What Do We Need to Know?," Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Papers 1153-97, University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty.
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    10. David M. Blau, 1999. "The Effect Of Income On Child Development," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 81(2), pages 261-276, May.
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    12. Hilary Williamson Hoynes, 1996. "Work, Welfare, and Family Structure: What Have We Learned?," NBER Working Papers 5644, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    14. Kristen Shook Slack, 1999. "Does the Loss of Welfare Income Increase the Risk of Involvement with the Child Welfare System?," JCPR Working Papers 65, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

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

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