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Welfare Waivers and Non-Marital Childbearing

  • Ann E. Horvath-Rose
  • H. Elizabeth Peters

In the late 1980's states began applying to the US Department of Health and Human Services for waivers granting permission to implement state level welfare policies that differed from existing federal policy. An explicit goal of state policymakers was to use policy tools to alter incentives in order to influence unmarried women's fertility decisions. This paper estimates the extent to which welfare waivers may have played a role in lowering the ratio of non-marital births and how this effect differed across age groups and races. The analysis uses aggregate state level data for the years 1984 through 1996 and estimates fixed-effect regression models. Waivers at each level of the process of request, approval, and implementation are found to be consistently negatively correlated with non-marital birth ratios. The family cap waiver is shown to be a useful policy tool for lowering non-marital fertility.

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Paper provided by Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research in its series JCPR Working Papers with number 128.

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Date of creation: 01 Jan 2000
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Handle: RePEc:wop:jopovw:128
Contact details of provider: Postal: Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies, 1155 E. 60th Street Chicago, IL 60637
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Web page: http://www.jcpr.org/wp/ByDate.html
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  1. Mary Jo Bane & David T. Ellwood, 1986. "Slipping into and out of Poverty: The Dynamics of Spells," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 21(1), pages 1-23.
  2. Susan L. Averett & Daniel I. Rees & Laura M. Argys, 2000. "Welfare generosity, pregnancies and abortions among unmarried AFDC recipients," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 13(4), pages 569-594.
  3. Geronimus, Arline T & Korenman, Sanders, 1992. "The Socioeconomic Consequences of Teen Childbearing Reconsidered," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 107(4), pages 1187-214, November.
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  6. Rebecca M. Blank, 2000. "What Causes Public Assistance Caseloads to Grow?," JCPR Working Papers 18, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
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  8. Antel, John J, 1992. "The Intergenerational Transfer of Welfare Dependency: Some Statistical Evidence," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 74(3), pages 467-73, August.
  9. Lundberg, S. & Plotnick, R.D., 1994. "Adolescent Premarital Childbearing: Do Economic Incentives Matters?," Discussion Papers in Economics at the University of Washington 94-4, Department of Economics at the University of Washington.
  10. Moffitt, Robert, 1990. "The effect of the U.S. welfare system on marital status," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(1), pages 101-124, February.
  11. 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.
  12. Gregory Acs, 1996. "The Impact of Welfare on Young Mothers' Subsequent Childbearing Decisions," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 31(4), pages 898-915.
  13. Robert W. Fairlie & Rebecca A. London, 1997. "The effect of incremental benefit levels on births to AFDC recipients," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 16(4), pages 575-597.
  14. Barbara Wolfe & Steven Hill, 1991. "The Health, Earnings Capacity, and Poverty of Single-Mother Families," Economics Working Paper Archive wp_59, Levy Economics Institute.
  15. Joan Kahn & Kay Anderson, 1992. "Intergenerational patterns of teenage fertility," Demography, Springer, vol. 29(1), pages 39-57, February.
  16. Greg Duncan & Saul Hoffman, 1990. "Welfare benefits, economic opportunities, and out-of-wedlock births among black teenage girls," Demography, Springer, vol. 27(4), pages 519-535, November.
  17. P. K. Robins & P. Fronstin, . "Welfare benefits and family-size decisions of never-married women," Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Papers 1022-93, University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty.
  18. Karin Brewster, 1994. "Neighborhood context and the transition to sexual activity among young black women," Demography, Springer, vol. 31(4), pages 603-614, November.
  19. David N. Figlio & James P. Ziliak, 1999. "Welfare Reform, the Business Cycle, and the Decline in AFDC Caseloads," JCPR Working Papers 77, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
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