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The differential impact of universal child benefits on the labor supply of married and single mothers


  • Kourtney Koebel, Tammy Schirle

    (Wilfrid Laurier University)


Using a difference-in-differences estimator, we find the Canadian Universal Child Care Benefit (a demogrant paid to families with children under age 6 that was introduced in July 2006) has significant negative effects on the labor supply of legally married mothers but significant positive effects on the labor supply of single mothers. The positive effect for single mothers is concentrated among divorced mothers, with results suggesting divorced mothers’ likelihood of participating in the labor force rises by 2.8 percentage points when receiving the benefit. This contrasts with a reduction in the likelihood of legally married mothers participating in the labor force by 1.4 percentage points. Further, the effects for single moms primarily represent entry to employment and the labor force (extensive margin) and not an increase in hours among those who would have been working without the benefits. The estimated effects for common-law married mothers and single never-married mothers are not statistically significant.

Suggested Citation

  • Kourtney Koebel, Tammy Schirle, 2015. "The differential impact of universal child benefits on the labor supply of married and single mothers," LCERPA Working Papers 0094, Laurier Centre for Economic Research and Policy Analysis, revised 01 May 2015.
  • Handle: RePEc:wlu:lcerpa:0094
    Note: LCERPA Working Paper No. 2015-11

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    Cited by:

    1. Lebihan, Laetitia & Mao Takongmo, Charles-Olivier, 2019. "Unconditional cash transfers and parental obesity," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 224(C), pages 116-126.
    2. Magda Iga & Kiełczewska Aneta & Brandt Nicola, 2020. "The effect of child benefit on female labor supply," IZA Journal of Labor Policy, Sciendo & Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 10(1), pages 1-18, March.
    3. Naoi, Michio & Akabayashi, Hideo & Nakamura, Ryosuke & Nozaki, Kayo & Sano, Shinpei & Senoh, Wataru & Shikishima, Chizuru, 2021. "Causal effects of family income on educational investment and child outcomes: Evidence from a policy reform in Japan," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 60(C).
    4. Filip Premik, 2021. "Estimating the effects of universal transfers: new ML approach and application to labor supply reaction to child benefits," GRAPE Working Papers 54, GRAPE Group for Research in Applied Economics.
    5. Lluis, Stephanie & McCall, Brian, 2022. "Spousal labour supply adjustments to extended benefits weeks: Evidence from Canada," CLEF Working Paper Series 42, Canadian Labour Economics Forum (CLEF), University of Waterloo.
    6. Filip Premik, 2021. "Evaluating the 500+ child support program in Poland," GRAPE Working Papers 53, GRAPE Group for Research in Applied Economics.
    7. Krzysztof Bartosik, 2020. "Świadczenia pieniężne na rzecz dzieci a podaż pracy kobiet w krajach OECD," Gospodarka Narodowa. The Polish Journal of Economics, Warsaw School of Economics, issue 3, pages 83-110.
    8. Lebihan, Laetitia & Mao Takongmo, Charles-Olivier, 2018. "The impact of universal child benefits on family health and behaviours," Research in Economics, Elsevier, vol. 72(4), pages 415-427.
    9. Green, David & Kesselman, Jonathan Rhys & Tedds, Lindsay M., 2021. "Covering All the Basics: Reforms for a More Just Society," MPRA Paper 105902, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    10. Hao Li, 2020. "The effect of universal pre‐kindergarten policy on female labor force participation—A synthetic control approach," Southern Economic Journal, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 87(2), pages 440-482, October.
    11. Magda, Iga & Kiełczewska, Aneta & Brandt, Nicola, 2018. "The Effects of Large Universal Child Benefits on Female Labour Supply," IZA Discussion Papers 11652, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).

    More about this item


    Labour supply; public policy; child benefits; demogrant;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply
    • J18 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Public Policy

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