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The Role of Access to Childcare in the Successful Transitions from Welfare to Work


  • Traci Mach
  • Patricia Reagan


In August 1996, Congress passed the Personal Responsibility Work Opportunities Reconciliation Act (PRWORA). This act eliminated Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), the largest source of cash assistance available to needy families, and replaced it with Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), a time-limited program with stringent work requirements. Because one of the elements vital to the success of welfare reform is the ability of mothers to transition from the welfare rolls into the labor market, states are investing a great deal of money in childcare. In this paper, we find that the decision to participate in covered-sector jobs of former welfare recipients is responsive to both the cost of childcare as well as the density of available childcare. The elasticity with respect to density is around 0.5, whereas the elasticity with respect to the price paid is about -0.4. There is no statistically significant impact of childcare variables on the decision to participate in jobs that are not covered by unemployment insurance (UI). Since jobs not covered by UI are likely to be lower paid and less durable than jobs in the covered sector, our results suggest that both the price and availability of childcare are important determinant of transitions from welfare to stable employment.

Suggested Citation

  • Traci Mach & Patricia Reagan, 2002. "The Role of Access to Childcare in the Successful Transitions from Welfare to Work," Discussion Papers 02-04, University at Albany, SUNY, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:nya:albaec:02-04

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    More about this item


    Childcare availability; childcare elasticity; welfare reform;

    JEL classification:

    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs
    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply


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