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The Effect of Welfare on Child Outcomes: What We Know and What We Need to Know

  • Janet Currie

This survey discusses 8 large federal welfare programs that affect children. The available evidence is incomplete but suggests a consistent story: Programs that target services directly to children have the largest measured effects, while it is more difficult to detect possibly positive effects of unrestricted cash transfers. There are also striking and largely unexplained differences between demographic groups in the effects of some programs. The survey concludes with five questions for future research: 1) Do welfare programs have long-term effects on children?; 2) Why do programs appear to have differential effects on different demographic groups?; 3) How do programs interact; 4) How exactly do successful programs work? and 5) Are programs cost effective? These questions indicate that though we know much more than we did even 5 years ago about the effects of welfare on children, there is still much work to be done if we are to make informed decisions about public policy.

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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 26.

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Date of creation: 01 Mar 1998
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Handle: RePEc:wop:jopovw:26
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  1. Currie, Janet & Yelowitz, Aaron, 2000. "Are public housing projects good for kids?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 75(1), pages 99-124, January.
  2. Gottschalk, Peter, 1990. "AFDC Participation across Generations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(2), pages 367-71, May.
  3. Blau, Francine D & Grossberg, Adam J, 1992. "Maternal Labor Supply and Children's Cognitive Development," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 74(3), pages 474-81, August.
  4. Rebecca M. Blank & Patricia Ruggles, 1993. "When Do Women Use AFDC & Food Stamps? The Dynamics of Eligibility vs. Participation," NBER Working Papers 4429, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Moffitt, Robert, 1992. "Incentive Effects of the U.S. Welfare System: A Review," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 30(1), pages 1-61, March.
  6. Venti, Steven F, 1984. "The Effects of Income Maintenance on Work, Schooling, and Non-Market Activities of Youth," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 66(1), pages 16-25, February.
  7. Janet Currie & Jonathan Gruber & Michael Fischer, 1994. "Physician Payments and Infant Mortality: Evidence from Medicaid Fee Policy," NBER Working Papers 4930, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Gruber, J. & Currie, J., 1994. "Saving Babies: The Efficacy and Cost of Recent Expansions of Medicaid Eligibility for Pregnant Women," Working papers 94-11, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  9. Philip K. Robins, 1985. "A Comparison of the Labor Supply Findings from the Four Negative Income Tax Experiments," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 20(4), pages 567-582.
  10. Janet Currie & Duncan Thomas, 1995. "Medical Care for Children: Public Insurance, Private Insurance, and Racial Differences in Utilization," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 30(1), pages 135-162.
  11. Barbara H. Kehrer & Charles M. Wolin, 1979. "Impact of Income Maintenance on Low Birth Weight: Evidence from the Gary Experiment," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 14(4), pages 434-462.
  12. David M. Cutler & Jonathan Gruber, 1995. "Does Public Insurance Crowd Out Private Insurance?," NBER Working Papers 5082, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Janet Currie & Duncan Thomas, 1998. "School Quality and the Longer-Term Effects of Head Start," NBER Working Papers 6362, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Currie, Janet & Cole, Nancy, 1993. "Welfare and Child Health: The Link between AFDC Participation and Birth Weight," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(4), pages 971-85, September.
  15. Sonalde Desai & P. Chase-Lansdale & Robert Michael, 1989. "Mother or Market? Effects of Maternal Employment on the Intellectual Ability of 4-Year-Old Children," Demography, Springer, vol. 26(4), pages 545-561, November.
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