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Adolescent Outcomes, Poverty Status, and Welfare Reform: An Analysis based on the Survey of Program Dynamics


  • Eileen Trzcinski
  • Jerry Brandell


In the early stages of research on the impact of welfare reform, most research focused on caseload reduction, employment outcomes, and barriers to employment. Even in research that examined the impact of welfare reform on children, the emphases centered on infants, preschoolers, and children at the grade school level. Issues concerning the impact on children in middle childhood and early adolescence were not considered a crucial area for research (Brooks, Hair, and Zaslow, 2001). We argue below, however, that children in late middle childhood and early adolescence are likely to face significant challenges in the wake of welfare reform. Our arguments are based on the premise that adolescence is a developmental epoch characterized by rapid physical, intellectual, and socioemotional growth and change, which is frequently accompanied by turbulence, perplexity, and confusion. Hence this research was undertaken specifically to examine potential effects of welfare reform on children in late childhood through adolescence. The research described below uses the Survey of Program Dynamics to examine the links between outcomes for adolescents, source of income, mother?s employment, and welfare reform. Specifically, the research examines how poverty status and family welfare receipt during middle childhood interact with current poverty status and welfare receipt during adolescence to influence a range of outcomes for adolescents. The outcomes that are examined include both parent reports and the set of indicators that are available in the 1998 adolescent self-administered questionnaire. The study examines how outcomes in the 1998-interviewing year vary for adolescents based on family income, maternal employment, patterns of parental welfare receipt in middle childhood and adolescence, and demographic variables. Data from the 1992 and 1993 longitudinal panels of the Survey of Income and Program Participation were matched with data from the 1997 and 1998 interviewing years of the Survey of Program Dynamics. The time period of the SIPP panels precedes the passage of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunities Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA).

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  • Eileen Trzcinski & Jerry Brandell, 2002. "Adolescent Outcomes, Poverty Status, and Welfare Reform: An Analysis based on the Survey of Program Dynamics," JCPR Working Papers 269, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:wop:jopovw:269

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Levine, Phillip B. & Zimmerman, David J., 2005. "Children's welfare exposure and subsequent development," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(1), pages 31-56, January.
    2. Greg Duncan & Rachel Dunifon & Morgan Ward Doran & W. Jean Yeung, 1998. "How Different ARE Welfare and Working Families? And Do Those Differences Matter for Children's Achievement?," JCPR Working Papers 38, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
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    Cited by:

    1. Aughinbaugh, Alison & Gittleman, Maury, 2004. "Maternal employment and adolescent risky behavior," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(4), pages 815-838, July.

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