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Punishment and Welfare: Paternal Incarceration and Families’ Receipt of Public Assistance

  • Naomi F. Sugie

    (Princeton University)

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    The US criminal justice and welfare systems together form important government interventions into the lives of the poor. This paper considers how imprisonment is related to welfare receipt for offenders and their families. Using longitudinal data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing study, it investigates how recent paternal incarceration is associated with families' receipt of TANF, food stamps, and Medicaid/SCHIP. Results robust to multiple tests find that incarceration does not increase the likelihood of TANF receipt but significantly increases food stamps and Medicaid/SCHIP receipt. Further, the effect of incarceration on welfare receipt is larger than the recent loss of father's employment. The findings suggest that an unexpected consequence of mass imprisonment is the expansion of government regulation through welfare provision for offender's families.

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    File URL: http://crcw.princeton.edu/workingpapers/WP11-09-FF.pdf
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    Paper provided by Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Center for Research on Child Wellbeing. in its series Working Papers with number 1313.

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    Date of creation: May 2011
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:pri:crcwel:wp11-09-ff
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    Web page: http://crcw.princeton.edu/

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    1. Devah Pager, 2003. "The mark of a criminal record," Natural Field Experiments 00319, The Field Experiments Website.
    2. Harry J. Holzer & Steven Raphael & Michael A. Stoll, 2001. "Will Employers Hire Ex-Offenders? Employer Preferences, Background Checks, and Their Determinants," JCPR Working Papers 238, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
    3. Christopher Wildeman, 2009. "Parental imprisonment, the prison boom, and the concentration of childhood disadvantage," Demography, Springer, vol. 46(2), pages 265-280, May.
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