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The impact of state welfare policies on women's cohabitation

  • Smith, Mark W.

Marriage and its relation to choices of fertility, work, and welfare receipt have been widely studied, yet little research has focused on nonmarital cohabitation. This paper presents a multinomial logit model of an American woman's major cohabitation options: not cohabiting, cohabiting with a spouse and possibly others, or cohabiting with others but not with a spouse. Because cohabitation has the possibility of alleviating poor women's need for public assistance, I investigate the connection between state welfare policies and the cohabitation choice. The analysis moves beyond the typical measure of welfare generosity--the monthly benefit level--to include two sets of state welfare regulations that affect how cohabitors' contributions to household expenditures may affect the woman's welfare benefit. The use of Census data allows sufficient sample sizes for separate estimation for White and Black women. I find that many personal and state variables substantially alter the choice of cohabitation, but welfare programs generally do not. The strongest impact of welfare programs falls on the choice of marriage, where I find support for the theory that more generous AFDC payments should be associated with fewer marriages. Although the patterns vary by race, the results reveal that other welfare policies do not exert a strong influence on women's choice of cohabitation and marriage.

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File URL: http://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/19288/1/MPRA_paper_19288.pdf
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Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 19288.

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Date of creation: Nov 1999
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Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:19288
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  1. David Blau & Philip Robins, 1989. "Fertility, Employment, and Child-Care Costs," Demography, Springer, vol. 26(2), pages 287-299, May.
  2. Frances Goldscheider & Julie DaVanzo, 1989. "Pathways to Independent Living in Early Adulthood: Marriage, Semiautonomy, and Premarital Residential Independence," Demography, Springer, vol. 26(4), pages 597-614, November.
  3. T. Paul Schultz, 1994. "Marital Status and Fertility in the United States: Welfare and Labor Market Effects," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 29(2), pages 637-669.
  4. Robert Hutchens & George Jakubson & Saul Schwartz, 1989. "AFDC and the Formation of Subfamilies," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 24(4), pages 599-628.
  5. Haurin, Donald R & Hendershott, Patric H & Kim, Dongwook, 1993. "The Impact of Real Rents and Wages on Household Formation," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 75(2), pages 284-93, May.
  6. Douglas A. Wolf, 1984. "Changes in Household Size and Composition due to Financial Incentives," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 19(1), pages 87-103.
  7. R. A. Moffitt & R. Reville & A. E. Winkler, . "Beyond single mothers: Cohabition, marriage, and the U.S. welfare system," Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Papers 1068-95, University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty.
  8. Robert Moffitt, 1988. "Has State Redistribution Policy Grown More Conservative?," NBER Working Papers 2516, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Ermisch, John & Di Salvo, Pamela, 1997. "The Economic Determinants of Young People's Household Formation," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 64(256), pages 627-44, November.
  10. Jay Teachman & Jeffrey Thomas & Kathleen Paasch, 1991. "Legal Status and the Stability of Coresidential Unions," Demography, Springer, vol. 28(4), pages 571-586, November.
  11. Schultz, T. Paul, 1998. "Eroding the economic foundations of marriage and fertility in the United States," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 9(4), pages 391-413, December.
  12. Pamela Smock & Wendy Manning, 1997. "Cohabiting partners’ economic circumstances and marriage," Demography, Springer, vol. 34(3), pages 331-341, August.
  13. Larry Bumpass & James Sweet, 1989. "National Estimates of Cohabitation," Demography, Springer, vol. 26(4), pages 615-625, November.
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