Cohabitation and Marriage Rules in State TANF Programs

71 Pages Posted: 16 Jun 2008 Last revised: 3 Apr 2009

Robert A. Moffitt

Johns Hopkins University - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Robert T. Reville

RAND Corporation - Institute for Civil Justice

Anne E. Winkler

University of Missouri at Saint Louis - Department of Economics

Jane McClure Burstain

RAND Corporation

Date Written: February 1, 2009

Abstract

In recent years, there has been continued interest in marriage, cohabitation, and the welfare system. The Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 provided $150 million annually in funds for initiatives to promote healthy marriages based on the perception that married couples are more stable, among other potential benefits for families and children. This working paper examines whether the recent push for marriage initiatives and the discretion afforded to states under welfare reform has translated into rules or regulations that favor marriage and discourage cohabitation. The researchers found that, despite some states adopting express policies to encourage and favor marriage, the welfare eligibility and work-rule structures in these states appear to work against such policies. Further, those structures may discourage marriage the most in the situations where the state would most want to encourage it, namely, where the male has financial resources. In addition, the most favored living arrangement is not to remain single but to cohabit with a male who is not the father of any of the children.

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Keywords: cohabitation, marriage, TANF

JEL Classification: I38, J12

Suggested Citation

Moffitt , Robert A. and Reville, Robert T. and Winkler, Anne E. and McClure Burstain, Jane, Cohabitation and Marriage Rules in State TANF Programs (February 1, 2009). RAND Working Paper Series No. WR-585-1. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1146708 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1146708

Robert Moffitt (Contact Author)

Johns Hopkins University - Department of Economics ( email )

Baltimore, MD 21218-2685
United States
410-516-7611 (Phone)
410-516-7600 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Robert T. Reville

RAND Corporation - Institute for Civil Justice ( email )

1776 Main Street
Santa Monica, CA
United States

Anne E. Winkler

University of Missouri at Saint Louis - Department of Economics ( email )

8001 Natural Bridge Road
St Louis, MO 63121
United States

Jane McClure Burstain

RAND Corporation ( email )

1776 Main Street
P.O. Box 2138
Santa Monica, CA 90407-2138
United States

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