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Time Limits and Welfare Use

  • Jeff Grogger

Time limits are a central component of recent welfare reforms and represent a substantial departure from previous policy. However, several recent studies suggest that they have had no effect on welfare use. In this paper I attempt to reconcile those findings with results from Grogger and Michalopoulos, who find time limits to have substantial effects that vary by the age of the youngest child in the family. Using data from the Current Population Survey, I obtain results similar to those of previous analysts when I estimate models that constrain the effects of time limits to be independent of age. When I allow for age dependence and employ controls for time-varying state-level unobservables that may be correlated with the timing of welfare reform, however, I find that time limits have negative effects on welfare use and that those effects are stronger, the younger the youngest child in the family. The estimates suggest that time limits may account for 16 to 18 percent of the recent decline in welfare use among female-headed families.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 7709.

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Date of creation: May 2000
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Journal of Human Resources, Vol. 39, no. 2 (Spring 2004): 405-424
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:7709
Note: CH LS PE
Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
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  1. 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.
  2. Jeff Grogger & Charles Michalopoulos, 1999. "Welfare Dynamics Under Time Limits," NBER Working Papers 7353, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Rebecca M. Blank, 2000. "What Causes Public Assistance Caseloads to Grow?," JCPR Working Papers 18, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
  4. James P. Ziliak & David N. Figlio & Elizabeth E. Davis & Laura S. Connolly, 2000. "Accounting for the Decline in AFDC Caseloads: Welfare Reform or the Economy?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 35(3), pages 570-586.
  5. J. P. Ziliak & D. N. Figlio & E. E. Davis & L. S. Connolly, . "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.
  6. Rebecca M. Blank, 1999. "What Goes Up Must Come Down? Explaining Recent Changes in Public Assistance Caseloads," JCPR Working Papers 78, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
  7. Robert A. Moffitt & LaDonna Pavetti, 1999. "Time Limits," JCPR Working Papers 91, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
  8. David N. Figlio & James P. Ziliak, 1999. "Welfare Reform, the Business Cycle, and the Decline in AFDC Caseloads," JCPR Working Papers 77, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
  9. Robert A. Moffitt, 1999. "The Effect of Pre-PRWORA Waivers on AFDC Caseloads and Female Earnings, Income, and Labor Force Behavior," JCPR Working Papers 89, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
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