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Are Lone Mothers Responsive to Policy Changes? The Effects of a Norwegian Workfare Reform on Earnings, Education, and Poverty

The generous Nordic model of welfare is commonly viewed as an exceptional success both in terms of equality and economic growth. However, it has recently become evident that subgroups of the population with weak labour market attachment and high welfare dependency, such as lone mothers, were vastly overrepresented among the poor. This motivated a workfare reform of the Norwegian welfare system for lone mothers; activity requirements were introduced, time limits imposed, and benefit levels raised. To evaluate the welfare reform we introduce an estimator that, unlike the much used difference-in-difference approach, accounts for the fact that policy changes are typically phased in gradually rather than coming into full effect at once. We find that the workfare reform did not only increase earnings and education as well as lower welfare caseloads and by this route ease the financial burden of the government, but also reduced poverty.

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Paper provided by Research Department of Statistics Norway in its series Discussion Papers with number 533.

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Date of creation: Mar 2008
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Handle: RePEc:ssb:dispap:533
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  1. LaLonde, Robert J, 1986. "Evaluating the Econometric Evaluations of Training Programs with Experimental Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(4), pages 604-20, September.
  2. Robert A. Moffitt, 2003. "The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program," NBER Chapters, in: Means-Tested Transfer Programs in the United States, pages 291-364 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  4. Bruce D. Meyer & Dan T. Rosenbaum, 1998. "Welfare, the Earned Income Tax Credit, and the Labor Supply of Single Mothers," JCPR Working Papers 32, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
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  6. Moffitt, Robert, 1985. "Unemployment insurance and the distribution of unemployment spells," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 28(1), pages 85-101, April.
  7. Richard Blundell & Alan Duncan & Julian McCrae & Costas Meghir, 2000. "The labour market impact of the working families’ tax credit," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 21(1), pages 75-103, March.
  8. V. Joseph Hotz & Charles H. Mullin & John Karl Scholz, 2002. "Welfare, Employment, and Income: Evidence on the Effects of Benefit Reductions from California," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(2), pages 380-384, May.
  9. Christopher A. Swann, 2004. "Welfare Reform when Recipients are Forward-Looking," Department of Economics Working Papers 04-04, Stony Brook University, Department of Economics.
  10. Arnstein Aassve & Gianni Betti & Stefano Mazzuco & Letizia Mencarini, 2007. "Marital disruption and economic well-being: a comparative analysis," Journal of the Royal Statistical Society Series A, Royal Statistical Society, vol. 170(3), pages 781-799.
  11. Randi Kjeldstad & Marit R�nsen, 2004. "Welfare Rules, Business Cycles, And Employment Dynamics Among Lone Parents In Norway," Feminist Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 10(2), pages 61-89.
  12. Richard Burkhauser & Greg Duncan & Richard Hauser & Roland Berntsen, 1991. "Wife or frau, women do worse: A comparison of men and women in the United States and Germany after marital dissolution," Demography, Springer, vol. 28(3), pages 353-360, August.
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