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Has Welfare Reform Changed Teenage Behaviors?

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  • Robert Kaestner
  • June O'Neill

Abstract

We use data from the National Longitudinal Surveys of Youth 1979 and 1997 cohorts to compare welfare use, fertility rates, educational attainment, and marriage rates among teenage women in the years before and the years immediately following welfare reform. Our first objective is to document differences between these cohorts in welfare use and outcomes and behaviors correlated with 'entry' into welfare, and with future economic and social well-being. Our second objective is to investigate the causal role of welfare reform in behavioral change. We find significant differences between cohorts in welfare use and in outcomes related to welfare use. Further, difference-in-differences estimates suggest that welfare reform has been associated with reduced welfare receipt, reduced fertility, reduced marriage, and lower school drop-out among young women who, because of a disadvantaged family background, are at high risk of welfare receipt (relative to those at lower risk). Finally, in the post-welfare reform era, teenage mothers are less likely to receive welfare and are more likely to live with a spouse or to live with at least one parent than in the pre-reform era. Establishing definitively that welfare reform is responsible for these changes among teenagers will require further investigation.

Suggested Citation

  • Robert Kaestner & June O'Neill, 2002. "Has Welfare Reform Changed Teenage Behaviors?," NBER Working Papers 8932, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:8932
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Dave M. O'Neill & June Ellenoff O'Neill, 1997. "Lessons for Welfare Reform: An Analysis of the AFDC Caseload and Past Welfare-to-Work Programs," Books from Upjohn Press, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, number lwr, November.
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    4. Robert Kaestner & Neeraj Kaushal, 2005. "Immigrant and native responses to welfare reform," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 18(1), pages 69-92, July.
    5. Jeffrey Grogger, 2004. "Time Limits and Welfare Use," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(2).
    6. V. Joseph Hotz & Susan Williams McElroy & Seth G. Sanders, 2005. "Teenage Childbearing and Its Life Cycle Consequences: Exploiting a Natural Experiment," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 40(3).
    7. Melissa Schettini Kearney, 2004. "Is There an Effect of Incremental Welfare Benefits on Fertility Behavior?: A Look at the Family Cap," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(2).
    8. Ann E. Horvath-Rose & H. Elizabeth Peters, 2000. "Welfare Waivers and Non-Marital Childbearing," JCPR Working Papers 128, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
    9. 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.
    10. Bruce D. Meyer & Dan T. Rosenbaum, 1999. "Making Single Mothers Work: Recent Tax and Welfare Policy and its Effects," JCPR Working Papers 152, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
    11. Marianne Bertrand & Esther Duflo & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2004. "How Much Should We Trust Differences-In-Differences Estimates?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 119(1), pages 249-275.
    12. Meyer, Bruce D. & Rosenbaum, Dan T., 2000. "Making Single Mothers Work: Recent Tax and Welfare Policy and Its Effects," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association;National Tax Journal, vol. 53(4), pages 1027-1062, December.
    13. Neeraj Kaushal & Robert Kaestner, 2001. "From Welfare to Work: Has Welfare Reform Worked?," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 20(4), pages 699-719.
    14. 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.
    15. Phillip B. Levine, 2002. "The Impact of Social Policy and Economic Activity Throughout the Fertility Decision Tree," NBER Working Papers 9021, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:

    1. DAVID M. BLAU & WILBERT van der KLAAUW, 2013. "What Determines Family Structure?," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 51(1), pages 579-604, January.
    2. Thomas DeLeire & Leonard Lopoo & Kosali Simon, 2011. "Medicaid Expansions and Fertility in the United States," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 48(2), pages 725-747, May.
    3. 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.
    4. Dave, Dhaval M. & Reichman, Nancy E. & Corman, Hope & Das, Dhiman, 2011. "Effects of welfare reform on vocational education and training," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(6), pages 1399-1415.
    5. Leonard M. Lopoo & Sara McLanahan & Irwin Garfinkel, 2003. "Explaining The Trend In Teenage Birth Rates From 1981-1999," Working Papers 960, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Center for Research on Child Wellbeing..
    6. Dhaval Dave & Hope Corman & Nancy Reichman, 2012. "Effects of Welfare Reform on Education Acquisition of Adult Women," Journal of Labor Research, Springer, vol. 33(2), pages 251-282, June.
    7. Lingxin Hao & Nan Astone & Andrew Cherlin, 2007. "Effects of child support and welfare policies on nonmarital teenage childbearing and motherhood," Population Research and Policy Review, Springer;Southern Demographic Association (SDA), vol. 26(3), pages 235-257, June.
    8. Amalia R. Miller & Lei Zhang, 2012. "Intergenerational Effects of Welfare Reform on Educational Attainment," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 55(2), pages 437-476.
    9. Kearney, Melissa S. & Levine, Phillip B., 2015. "Investigating recent trends in the U.S. teen birth rate," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 15-29.
    10. Lincoln Groves & Sarah Hamersma & Leonard M. Lopoo, 2017. "Pregnancy Medicaid Expansions and Fertility: Differentiating between the Intensive and Extensive Margins," Center for Policy Research Working Papers 206, Center for Policy Research, Maxwell School, Syracuse University.
    11. Stéphane Mechoulan, 2011. "The External Effects of Black Male Incarceration onBlack Females," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 29(1), pages 1-35, January.
    12. Chase-Lansdale, P. Lindsay & Cherlin, Andrew J. & Guttmannova, Katarina & Fomby, Paula & Ribar, David C. & Coley, Rebekah Levine, 2011. "Long-term implications of welfare reform for the development of adolescents and young adults," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 33(5), pages 678-688, May.
    13. Corman, Hope & Dave, Dhaval & Kalil, Ariel & Reichman, Nancy E., 2017. "Effects of maternal work incentives on youth crime," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(C), pages 128-144.
    14. Melissa Schettini Kearney & Phillip B. Levine, 2012. "Explaining Recent Trends in the U.S. Teen Birth Rate," NBER Working Papers 17964, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    15. repec:eee:jfpoli:v:75:y:2018:i:c:p:134-146 is not listed on IDEAS
    16. repec:pri:crcwel:wp02-05-lopoo is not listed on IDEAS
    17. Dhaval M. Dave & Nancy E. Reichman & Hope Corman, 2008. "Effects of Welfare Reform on Educational Acquisition of Young Adult Women," NBER Working Papers 14466, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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    JEL classification:

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

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