Welfare Reform and Children's Early Cognitive Development
23 Pages Posted: 20 Aug 2014
Date Written: October 2014
In this paper, we use a dynamic structural model to measure the effects of (1) single mothers' work and welfare use decisions and (2) welfare reform initiatives on the early cognitive development of the children of the NLSY79 mothers. We use PIAT‐Math scores as a measure of attainment and show that both the mothers' work and welfare use benefit children on average. Our simulation of a policy that combines a time limit with work requirement reduces the use of welfare and increases employment significantly. These changes in turn significantly increase children's cognitive attainment. This implies that the welfare reform was not only successful in achieving its stated goals, but was also beneficial to welfare children's outcomes. In another policy simulation, we show that increasing work incentives for welfare population by exempting labor income from welfare tax can be a very successful policy with some additional benefits for children's outcomes. Finally, a counterfactual with an extended maternal leave policy significantly reduces employment and has negative, though economically insignificant, impact on cognitive outcomes.
JEL Classification: I38, J22, J18
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation