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The intergenerational correlation in AFDC participation: Welfare trap or poverty trap?

  • P. B. Levine
  • D. J. Zimmerman

Several recent studies have shown that daughters whose mothers have participated in the welfare program Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), are themselves more likely to participate in AFDC when they head their own household. Other studies have shown that the earnings of parents and their children are highly correlated across generations. This suggests that any variable correlated with income such as AFDC participation will also be correlated across generations. This paper uses data from the original and youth cohorts of the National Longitudinal Surveys to investigate the question of whether the link in mother-daughter welfare participation is a causal relationship, or whether it can be explained by the expected intergenerational correlation in earnings. Several reduced-form probit equations are estimated, and attention is directed to the potential endogeneity of key explanatory variables. The empirical findings suggest that much of the observed correlation in AFDC participation across generations can be explained by the intergenerational correlation of income and other family characteristics.

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Paper provided by University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty in its series Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Papers with number 1100-96.

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Handle: RePEc:wop:wispod:1100-96
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  1. Blank, Rebecca M., 1988. "The effect of welfare and wage levels on the location decisions of female-headed households," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(2), pages 186-211, September.
  2. Card, David & Krueger, Alan B, 1992. "Does School Quality Matter? Returns to Education and the Characteristics of Public Schools in the United States," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(1), pages 1-40, February.
  3. Joshua D. Angrist, 1991. "Instrumental Variables Estimation of Average Treatment Effects in Econometrics and Epidemiology," NBER Technical Working Papers 0115, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Gary Solon & Mary Corcoran & Roger Gordon & Deborah Laren, 1988. "Sibling and Intergenerational Correlations in Welfare Program Participation," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 23(3), pages 388-396.
  5. Sara McLanahan, 1988. "Family structure and dependency: Early transitions to female household headship," Demography, Springer, vol. 25(1), pages 1-16, February.
  6. Peter Gottschalk, 1993. "Is The Correlation In Welfare Participation Across Generations Spurious?," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 224, Boston College Department of Economics.
  7. Gottschalk, Peter, 1990. "AFDC Participation across Generations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(2), pages 367-71, May.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. Zimmerman, David J, 1992. "Regression toward Mediocrity in Economic Stature," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(3), pages 409-29, June.
  11. Moffitt, Robert, 1983. "An Economic Model of Welfare Stigma," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(5), pages 1023-35, December.
  12. Joseph G. Altonji & Thomas A. Dunn, 1991. "Relationships Among the Family Incomes and Labor Market Outcomes of Relatives," NBER Working Papers 3724, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Plant, Mark W, 1984. "An Empirical Analysis of Welfare Dependence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(4), pages 673-84, September.
  14. Solon, Gary, 1992. "Intergenerational Income Mobility in the United States," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(3), pages 393-408, June.
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