Children's Welfare Exposure and Subsequent Development

39 Pages Posted: 5 May 2000 Last revised: 15 Oct 2010

See all articles by Phillip B. Levine

Phillip B. Levine

Wellesley College; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

David J. Zimmerman

Williams College

Date Written: February 2000

Abstract

We examine the extent to which children are exposed to the welfare system through their mother's receipt of benefits and its impact on several developmental outcomes. Using data from the matched mother-child file from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY), we find that children's welfare exposure is substantial. By age 10 over one-third of all children will have lived in a welfare household; black, non-Hispanic children face a much higher rate of exposure. Simple correlations suggest a strong negative relationship between maternal welfare receipt and children's outcomes. In this paper we implement three alternative strategies (instrumental variables, sibling difference, and child fixed effects models) designed to identify whether this correlation can be attributed to the mother's welfare receipt directly or to other characteristics of mothers who receive welfare, regardless of whether or not those characteristics are observable to the researcher. Based on the results of all three estimation strategies, we find little evidence of any causal link between maternal welfare receipt and children's developmental outcomes.

Suggested Citation

Levine, Phillip B. and Zimmerman, David J., Children's Welfare Exposure and Subsequent Development (February 2000). NBER Working Paper No. w7522. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=216448

Phillip B. Levine (Contact Author)

Wellesley College ( email )

106 Central Street
Wellesley, MA 02181
United States
781-283-2162 (Phone)
781-283-2177 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

David J. Zimmerman

Williams College ( email )

Williamstown, MA 01267
United States
413-597-2192 (Phone)

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